Alison Lapper's son driven to drink and drugs by bullies, inquest told

Disabled artist Alison Lapper’s son, 19, was driven to drink and drugs by bullies who mocked his mother before he died after taking cocktail of heroin and anti-anxiety pills in hotel room, inquest hears

  • Parys Lapper, 19, was ‘failed by mental health services’, his mother told inquest
  • The son of disabled artist Alison Lapper, 55, suffered from mental health issues
  • He died in a hotel in Worthing, West Sussex in August 2019 after taking heroin 
  • The teen had been ‘bullied and abused in school over his mother’s disabilities’

The teenage son of disabled artist Alison Lapper had taken a cocktail of prescription drugs before his death, an inquest was told.

Parys Lapper – who appeared in BBC1s A Child of Our Time – had suffered years of mental health problems.

The 19-year-old had been bullied and abused in school over his mother’s disabilities and had turned to drink and drugs as a way of coping.

However he became badly addicted to drugs and dropped out of school as his life spiralled out of control.

He was treated by mental health services but was discharged on August 1, just days before his death.

An inquest into his death found that as well as heroin the teenager had taken several prescription drugs in the hours leading up to his death.

Parys Lapper, 19, (pictured left) was found dead in a Worthing hotel room. His mother, disabled artist Alison Lapper, 55, (pictured right) told an inquest that her son was failed by mental health services in the run-up to his death

Artist Alison Lapper leaves West Sussex Coroners’ Court in Crawley with partner Si Clift today following the inquest into the death of her son Parys

Miss Lapper, 55, an artist, who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to a condition called phocomelia, famously posed naked while heavily pregnant with Parys for a marble sculpture. The sculpture by artist Marc Quinn later went on display on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square between 2005-2007 (pictured)

The hearing was told Parys had been prescribed several drugs – including medication used to treat anxiety – by his GP and mental health team at Sussex Partnership NHS Trust.

But Parys was ‘desperate for drugs’ and was also paying to see Dr Richard Duffett – a private Harley Street consultant psychiatrist – who independently prescribed a strong anti-anxiety tablet.

The inquest was told these were duplicates as Parys was already being prescribed the same medication by his mental health team.

The inquest was told he abused the drugs and on one occasion took a number of anti-anxiety tablets in one go. 

The teenager was found dead from a drugs overdose at a hotel in Worthing, West Sussex on August 13, 2019.

Parys’ family believe the troubled teenager was failed by mental health services in the run-up to his death and his mother, Alison, previously told the inquest in Crawley, West Sussex that she had very serious concerns over his treatment.

She said poor decisions were made and claimed several key opportunities to help her son had been tragically missed.

In a statement she said: ‘Tragically this should never have a happened. I feel that Parys was let down by social services and huge changes need to happen to prevent this happening to another child.’

Miss Lapper, 55, an artist, who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to phocomelia, famously posed naked while heavily pregnant with Parys for a marble sculpture.

The sculpture by artist Marc Quinn later went on display on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square between 2005-2007.

Miss Lapper (left) has previously told how Parys suffered horrendous bullying and mocking as a child. She told the inquest in Crawley that, as a coping mechanism her son (right) began to smoke cannabis and drink heavily 

Earlier Miss Lapper told the inquest Parys had been a normal, happy young boy who took care of his appearance and loved life.

However as he entered his teenage years his behaviour began to deteriorate and he was less social and happy.

She said severe bullying he had suffered in school had caused him to suffer from anxiety and depression.

She told the inquest as a coping mechanism her son began to smoke cannabis and drink heavily and as that increased he stopped washing and caring for himself.

The inquest heard his behaviour continued to deteriorate and he stopped going to school and socialising with his friends.

The troubled teenager started to stay in bed all day and his weight began to drop as he stopped eating normally and suffer panic attacks.

He was diagnosed with a catalogue of conditions including depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ADHD.

At the age of 17, Parys’s behaviour and mental health problems worsened and he was sectioned under the mental health act at Worthing Hospital.

From there was moved to Chalkhill in Haywards Heath – a leading hospital in treating children and young people with mental health problems – where he received a programme of treatment.

The hearing was told he was then transferred to centre for young people with behavioural problems in Bognor Regis.

Miss Lapper said she felt the placement was wrong as the main focus of the unit was to keep him room clean, shop and look after himself.

However Parys found it almost impossible to care for himself and his mother stepped in to help him.

Although he was attending appointments with a psychiatrist his condition continued to worsen.

Miss Lapper told the hearing: ‘He had suicidal thoughts because no one was listening to him.’

She said when Parys turned 18 she could no longer have any say into his medical treatment.

Miss Lapper said his behaviour became more and more erratic and she began to receive parcels of drugs at her home that her son had ordered from the internet.

Parys was found a place at a supported accommodation unit but he then moved in with a man called Terry he met on the Craigslist website.

The teenager would tell people Terry was his uncle but the hearing was told the pair had met on the website which linked people who wanted to offer sexual favours for drugs.

Parys’ family believe the troubled teenager was failed by mental health services in the run-up to his death and his mother, Alison, previously told the inquest in Crawley, West Sussex she had very serious concerns over his treatment 

Miss Lapper said Parys was continually asking for money from her and also asked her to pay money into Terry’s bank account.

The inquest was told that when his NHS psychiatrist refused to hand him the schizophrenia medication he had requested he found a private psychiatrist and began a course of different drugs.

Parys was discharged from mental health services on July 25, 2019, and went to live in a temporary accommodation hotel in Worthing, West Sussex.

The teenager was found dead from a suspected accidental drug overdose at the Wolsey hotel 18 days later.

His psychiatrist Dr Arun Ravivarman of Sussex Partnership NHS Trust told the inquest he did not know whether had Parys not been discharged he would be alive.

The inquest continues.

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, or click here for details. 

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