Cheddar family say the system ‘failed’ their ‘bright and beautiful daughter’

Sofia Legg. Picture: Legg family

Sofia Legg. Picture: Legg family - Credit: Legg family

A family believe their ‘kind, bright and beautiful daughter’ was failed by the mental health system in the weeks leading up to the teenager’s death.

Sofia Legg, aged 14, was found dead at home in Saxon Way, in Cheddar, on September 20 and an inquest into her death was held in Taunton on Tuesday.

The Kings Of Wessex Academy student was a ‘vivacious’ and ‘happy-go-lucky’ child, according to her mother, but was found by her family hanged at 10pm.

Sofia had been on a six-month waiting list for therapy under the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

The inquest was told care co-ordinator Camaldeep Dhillon had instructed the family to not let the youngster out of their sight after previously mentioned having suicidal thoughts – a claim her parents strongly refuted.

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Sofia’s mum Sandra Legg said: “I adored her. The whole family did. Something as significant as that would not have been foggy; we would not have ignored it.

“I would have strapped myself to her back, I would have gone to school with her and sat in her classes. I would have done anything to keep her safe.”

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Mr Williams read through Sofia’s crisis care plan – which the family said they followed ‘to the letter’ – which stated she had to be ‘checked on’ regularly and not watched at all times.

Sofia’s family said: “We will forever mourn the loss of our kind, bright, beautiful daughter.

“Sofia was failed by the system and we feel badly let down. Tragedies like this have increased dramatically in recent years. Children like Sofia are being failed by the very agencies which have been set up to protect them.

“Something more needs to be done to protect our children, so other families do not have to experience the pain, devastation, and sense of loss which our family is going through.

“No mother should have to repeatedly beg for professional help for her child, and no child in immediate need should be placed on a six-month waiting list.”

The family first approached their GP at Cheddar Medical Centre back in March 2015 amid concerns about Sofia’s low mood and she was referred to CAMHS who refused to treat her as she ‘failed to meet the criteria’.

But in June 2016 she was given an urgent referral to the mental health service after expressing suicidal thoughts and was placed on the waiting list for cognitive behavioural therapy.

The inquest was told Sofia did not know what caused her to isolate herself and feel suicidal. She experienced some bullying in year seven however this was resolved by the school.

In a statement to the coroner, Mrs Legg recounted there was a significant change in Sofia’s behaviour when she entered year eight as she started misbehaving and lying. The summer holidays saw clear improvements, but she became more withdrawn as the new academic year approached.

The day before her death, Sofia told Mrs Dhillon she had a rope hidden under her bed.

Mrs Dhillon said: “I was concerned about what Sofia was telling me and decided to tell her mum.”

On the day Sofia died, the Legg family went out and left her at home after she begged her mother to ‘trust her’. But they quickly rushed home when Sofia did not reply to texts.

Mr Williams said Sofia had left an undated handwritten suicide letter and concluded she intended to hang herself.

Mr Williams told the family he would write to the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in wake of Sofia’s death.

He said he would outline the findings of the inquest and would urge the trust to improve communication with parents and patients.

A spokesman from the trust said: “We would like to take this opportunity to apologise again to the family and friends of Sofia Legg.

“We acknowledge the coroner’s findings that the Trust’s CAMHS service could have communicated better within the service and with outside agencies about Sofia’s care.

“In the last nine months, we have received additional investment in our CAMHS in light of the increased demand for the services we provide. We are making improvements, including the introduction of a single point of access into our service to make it easier for young people to get help, and an increase the numbers of mental health crisis workers in the community.

“We will continue to work closely with the coroner in considering and responding to his report and we have offered to meet again with Sofia’s family to make sure we do all we can to learn from this tragic incident.”

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