Boy, 16, found dead by his mum in a hostel was 'groomed by drug gang'

The death of a 16-year-old boy who ended up in an adult homeless hostel after being groomed into dealing drugs will remain a mystery, an inquest has found.

Ben Nelson-Roux was found by his mum, Kate Roux, at the hostel in Harrogate, Yorkshire, in April 2020.

His parents say he had a ‘loving, supportive’ upbringing but struggled with ADHD and started smoking cannabis at just 12 years old.

After struggling with drug abuse in his early teens he was exploited by so-called county lines gangs who forced him to sell Class A substances, an inquest was told.

Kate says her son left home after his worsening behaviour caused a family rift, and refused to enter children’s care while showing increasing signs of a personality disorder.

Despite being known to police and 12 different government and social agencies, Ben was offered ‘no rehab, no suitable accommodation, no psychiatric support’, she claims.

She had planned to take him to an appointment with a private psychiatrist when she visited him.

After finding his door locked and becoming alarmed, she broke down his door only to find his body face-down on his bed.

The coroner’s court was not able to make a finding on the medical cause of Ben’s death.

His pathologist said an invasive post-mortem could not be carried out due to a ‘blanket’ NHS Covid policy in North Yorkshire at the time, although Ben’s family contest the claim.

A toxicology sample found drugs and alcohol in his system but the level was too low to be sure they had caused his death.

Coroner Jon Heath recorded a narrative conclusion that Ben’s death, although officially ‘unascertained’, was probably due to the abuse of multiple substances.

Ben’s dad, Barry Nelson, told the inquest his son deliberately stayed homeless as he was ‘seduced by the promise of his own flat by social workers’.

His living situation, particularly at an adult homeless shelter where drugs and alcohol were rife, made it ‘impossible to keep him safe’, he claimed.

The inquest was told staff at the shelter were ‘concerned’ at Ben’s young age when he was sent there, which council officials insisted was a ‘last resort’ decision.

But as a result of the medical uncertainty, the coroner was also unable to say whether Ben’s accommodation contributed to his death.

According to MailOnline, Ben’s eventual ADHD diagnosis resulted in him being prescribed Ritalin, a drug which has been linked with a higher risk of psychosis when combined with cannabis consumption.

Paying tribute to her son after the verdict, Kate said: ‘Ben was a kind, funny clever and adventurous child. He amazed us with magic tricks and knew every word to every song.’

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