London

Jack Susianta canal death was 'drug-related accident'

Jack Susianta Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Jack Susianta suffered a psychotic incident when he died

The death of a teenager who drowned in a London canal was a drug-related accident, an inquest jury has ruled.

Jack Susianta died in a canal at Walthamstow Marshes on 29 July last year.

He had suffered a psychotic episode and smashed through a window at his family home and fled in just a T-shirt, socks and boxer shorts.

The 17-year-old jumped in the canal to evade police believing they were not real officers.

The jury at St Pancras Coroner's Court reached a unanimous conclusion of drug-related accidental death.

During the inquest, his mother said her son had taken the drug MDMA at a festival days before.

The day after he returned, he was found mentally unwell, sitting on a traffic island in Hackney.

He was taken to Homerton Hospital by police where he was subjected to a high level restraint.

His mental health crisis re-emerged and on Wednesday morning he ran out of the house. Officers found him on Hackney Marshes and chased him but Jack jumped into the River Lee.

'High-risk situations'

In a statement, Jack's family said: "When Jack became ill we sought help from professionals because we had never been in this situation before."

They added they were "relieved" the jury had not sought to blame Jack for his own death.

"We hope that this process will result in other vulnerable young people and their families receiving better support from the authorities," they said.

The court also heard from witnesses who criticised the police response, saying officers were "hesitant" to go into the water to save him.

But one officer, PC Tom Griffiths, said he saw the teenager go underwater and believed it was a "deliberate act" to evade them.

Acting Insp James Reynolds said police had to carry out an assessment before taking action because the water looked "really oily, dark and you could not see below the surface".

Following the verdict, the Met's Commander for east London, Lucy D'Orsi, said: "My colleagues arrive at work each day ready to face endless unknown and high-risk situations.

"Sixty percent of our calls are not directly linked to crime with many being to help vulnerable people who need assistance. It's this work that actually inspired many of us to join as police officers."

The coroner has decided to compile a preventing future death report, focusing on the East London Foundation NHS Trust.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is also investigating.

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