Mother of tragic teenager Keaton Burton gives evidence at inquest into his death
The mother of a teenager found dead in woodland has told an inquest about how they discussed his plans for the future just days earlier.
Keaton Shawn Burton, 19, was a voluntary inpatient with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust before his body was found off Toll Bar Road, in Ryhope, Sunderland, on June 24, 2019.
An ongoing inquest at Sunderland Coroner’s Court has heard how he was staying at the trust’s Fellside Ward unit, in Newcastle, at the time after an attempt to self-harm.
Giving evidence on the second day of the hearing, his mother, Jessica Talbot, said his mood appeared to have started to improve when she visited him at the ward earlier in June.
She said he talked of saving up to travel and added: “He wanted to do his motorbike test and get a bike. He thought it would be cheaper than a car.”
On a later visit, however, she noticed he had become withdrawn.
Ms Talbot said: “He was not really engaging in conversation at all. He could not make eye contact with me. He said he did not really want to stay and that he had started medication.”
She had earlier told how Keaton had debated leaving work at the turn of the year, adding: “He regretted not going to college on leaving school. He could have been at university if he had gone to college after leaving school.”
The inquest heard he began receiving NHS support in February before eventually quitting his job shortly after.
Ms Talbot said: “He felt he was letting them down by being off work and getting full pay.”
Keaton was prescribed anti-depressants in April and agreed to become a voluntary inpatient with the trust after he briefly disappeared from home on June 12.
The first day of the inquest was told that Keaton never returned after he asked to go out at around 10.30pm on June 23 for a permitted cigarette break.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Catarina Gois, when asked by assistant coroner Karen Welsh if he should have been sectioned, replied: “He was sleeping better, he was eating. He had identified a number of positive things and he was talking about wanting to change his life, to start over.
"Looking at all that information we had at the time, I think I would not have made a decision to detain him.”
When asked the same question on day two of the inquest, Ms Talbot said: “I think yes.”
She also said she contacted the mental health unit to see if her son could be transferred to Hopewood Park Hospital, in Ryhope, so that he could be closer to home and was told “that it would depend on availability”.
The inquest was told on day two that the unit has changed its working practices since Keaton’s death.
Nursing director Karen Wharton said a new call log had been put in place for six months to underline the importance of returning messages from families and that specific hours were now set aside to keep relations updated.
Staff had been trained in the use of an "at a glance” board to track the progress of each patient’s treatment and to ensure that any outstanding actions were passed on.
The inquest continues.