• Southern Health Foundation Trust formally accepts responsibility for death of Connor Sparrowhawk
  • Mr Sparrowhawk, who had epilepsy, drowned in a bath following a seizure while in the care of Southern Health
  • The trust admits it caused his death, was negligent and violated Mr Sparrowhawk and his family’s human rights

Southern Health Foundation Trust has formally accepted responsibility for the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, and accepted it made “unlawful acts and ommissions” in relation to the teenager’s death.

In a statement published on its website on Friday, the trust publicly admitted it caused his death, that it was negligent and it violated both Mr Sparrowhawk and his family’s human rights.

Mr Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath at Southern Health’s short term assessment and treatment unit in Oxfordshire in July 2013.

An inquest jury found in October that Mr Sparrowhawk, who was 18 and had autism and epilepsy, died as a result of drowning following a seizure, and that his death was contributed to by neglect.

The trust’s statement said: “Southern Health Foundation Trust accepts that it was responsible for the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, an 18 year old boy who was a much loved son, brother and friend.

“Connor’s preventable death was the result of multiple systemic and individual failures by the trust in the care provided to Connor on [a short term assessment and treatment] unit.”

The trust accepted it had violated Mr Sparrowhawk’s right to life under article two of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the rights of his family under the same article.

It also accepted that it had “failed to take all reasonable steps to locate all relevant evidence and to disclose this to the coroner and Connor’s family”.

The statement said that Southern Health would pay Mr Sparrowhawk’s family £80,000 in compensation for its “unlawful acts and ommissions”.

It also acknowledged that Sara Ryan, Mr Sparrowhawk’s mother, had “conducted herself and the Justice for LB campaign in a dignified, fair and reasonable way”.

“To the extent that there have been comments to the contrary by trust staff and family members of staff, these do not represent the view of the trust and are expressly disavowed,” it added.

Charlotte Haworth, the family’s solicitor, said: “This full admission finally shows what Connor’s family have known for years – that Connor and they were repeatedly failed by Southern Health.”

Mr Sparrowhawk’s death resulted in NHS England commissioning a review of the trust by the audit firm Mazars, which in December published a report highlighting failures by the trust to properly investigate and learn from the deaths of service users.

Southern Health’s new chair, Tim Smart, is currently reviewing the trust’s leadership.