Teenager's inquest delayed after claims records at Prestwich Hospital may have been tampered with

Charlie Millers died in December 2020. Credit: Family photo

An inquest into the death of teenager being treated at a mental health unit has been delayed after it emerged hospital records may have been edited after his death.

Charlie Millers, 17, died five days after being found unresponsive in his room at Prestwich Hospital on 2 December 2020. He was an inpatient on Pegasus Ward.

He is one of three young people to die at the hospital in less than a year.

Charlie’s inquest was due to begin at Rochdale Coroner’s Court on Monday 30 January, but the hearing was adjourned after police requested further time to review the initial investigation into his death.

Senior Coroner Joanne Kearsley told the court questions had been raised about whether some hospital documents ‘might have been altered’ since Charlie’s death.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are now set to reopen the investigation, and say some members of staff working for the hospital trust may have to be interviewed under caution as part of their enquiries.

Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes told the court: “I was contacted by the coroner and asked to review the initial investigation into Charlie’s death.

"Having reviewed our documents there are a number of issues that I believe require further investigation.

"We may even have to interview certain members of staff under caution. Some entries may have been edited which may have an innocent explanation but that requires further investigation.”

Charlie's mother, Samantha Millers said she asked for support for her son and expected him to be looked after Credit: MEN Media

Charlie was a transgender teenager who had experienced behavioural issues since primary school and mental ill health since the age of 11. He was diagnosed with ADHD and autism.

Sam Millers, Charlie’s mother, said: “We have waited over two years to get answers over Charlie’s death and yet still new and important evidence is being unearthed causing further delays to the process.

"As Charlie’s mum is it very difficult to get to this stage and face the prospect of another long delay.

"Greater Manchester Police need to take this issue very seriously to ensure we get justice and accountability for Charlie, and that other young people are kept safe.”

The inquest will now look to be held from 4 December 2023.

Adjourning the inquest, Ms Kearsley said she was ‘not satisfied’ with the initial investigation carried out by GMP.

She also called for the force to “collaborate” with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) about their findings, and whether a subsequent CQC investigation is needed.

"I am acutely aware not only for Charlie’s family but also the witnesses, that this is not what anyone would have wanted,” she said.

"I know it has been a long time preparing for this. We will do the inquest but we will do it right."

Charlie’s family lawyer told the court that they were ‘extremely dissatisfied’ but are “reassured” by the level of scrutiny that has gone into his case.

The hearing was scheduled to be held at Rochdale Coroners Court Credit: MEN Media

Jodie Anderson, Senior Caseworker at INQUEST, said: "Not only do medical professionals and NHS Trusts have a duty of care to their patients, they also have a duty to cooperate with investigations into their deaths.

"Yet too often we see a culture of delay, denial and obfuscation at inquests which frustrates justice and delay vital change.

"This family have waited years for answers, and now face yet more delay as deeply concerning evidence has come to light.

"We hope this investigation will enable a full and thorough examination of the care Charlie received and will progress with urgency."

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