Family of young boy with autism who wanderd from Garden Court facility finally get answers

CC BY-NC-ND by Chris Gin

Garden Court facility, Mangere, Auckland – Julian Stacey was 11-years-old when he wandered out of a side gate of the Garden Court facility in Mangere on February 7, 2010. Julian needed constant supervision.His body was sadly found at the nearby pond.

A coroner’s inquest earlier this year heard he left during a period of reduced supervision, The New Zealand Herald reports.

A “crisis plan” at the school that specified checking the pond immediately was not carried out. Garden Court manager Angela Larsen drove around the the streets looking for Julian while it took 30 minutes to notify police.

The crisis plan also stated that Julian was at “extreme and catastrophic risk” if he ran away.

Ms Larsen told the inquest she did not know where the pond was as she had only recently started working at the home.

Coroner Peter Ryan ruled Julian died of an accidental drowning. But he found Spectrum Care, the trust that runs Garden Court, was responsible for “two critical failings” contributing to the death.

“The first is the failure to provide a secure environment for Julian,” the coroner said. “The second failure relates to staff at Garden Court not referring to and following the crisis plan for Julian.”

Mr Ryan said Spectrum should train staff to follow “emergency plans“.

The Department of Labour and the Health and Disability Commissioner conducted previous investigations into Julian’s death and Mr Ryan initially was going to hold an inquest.Howver Juliann’s mum, Natasha Stacey, kept pushing for a full account of what happened to be made public.

“We would not rest until we received some form of justice for Julian… I’m definitely happy with the outcome. It’s what we knew as a family, but now we see it in black and white.”

Other new information also emerged during the inquest such as the number of times he had escaped before.

The original and full article by Jimmy Ellingham on The New Zealand Herald website can be read here