Questions raised over the death of ex-sailor

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A FAMILY have questioned why their daughter was allowed to leave a mental health hospital before she hanged herself.

Leya Keating, 21, was found hanged along the Billy Lines in Havant on May 31 last year after she was granted leave from Elmleigh Hospital, in New Lane, an in-patient mental health unit.

Leya, who lived with her adopted parents Louise and Thomas Keating in Huddersfield, became a sailor with the navy and moved to Portsmouth in 2012, but was discharged from the service later that year after she hurt her ankle.

An inquest at Portsmouth Guildhall heard that Leya’s parents separated after her mother became a victim of domestic violence.

After her early discharge from the navy, Leya confided to her biological mother Marie Sharpe that she had been raped by an officer in a navy hospital. The officer was convicted of the offence.

She also told Ms Sharpe that she had suffered sexual abuse as a child, when she stayed with her biological father and was left in a woman’s care.

Due to lack of evidence this case was dropped in April last year.

In February 2014, Leya became a voluntary patient at Elmleigh – run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust – where the court heard clinicians found granting Leya leave from hospital helped her wellbeing.

At 2am on May 31, an ambulance was called because Leya had self-harmed. At 10am the same morning a clinician assessment found Leya would be okay to leave the hospital for a few hours.

A passer-by found Leya, and although he managed to free her and call 999, she was pronounced dead at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Speaking at the inquest, Gina Winter-Bates, from Southern Health, said: ‘Leya had tried to take her own life and been known to self-harm as a part of a coping method for the abuse she had suffered.

‘A risk assessment was carried out between Leya and a nurse, but as she was a voluntary patient it was not formally recorded.’

Coroner David Horsley recorded a narrative verdict into her death and said there needs to be a reform in how assessments of informal patients are recorded.

He said: ‘Even if Leya was not granted leave then it’s likely she would have found some way to harm herself.

‘This was no-ones fault – it was the illness that took her life.’

Paying tribute to his daughter, Mr Keating said: ‘The girl in these reports was not the girl that was in our house.

‘Leya was very boisterous and extremely good at sports, gymnastics and swimming. She qualified as a kayak instructor at 14.

‘Louise poured herself into helping Leya with education.’