A LIKEABLE but troubled teenager with a history of self-harming when drunk hanged himself at a care home, an inquest heard.

But County Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle could not be sure Paul Mullally intended to die as a result of his actions last September.

The inquest, at Crook Civic Centre on Thursday (July 9), heard that Durham County Council was involved in Paul’s care for some time.

The 16-year-old had moved from foster care to Coxhoe Children’s Home last April to prepare for more independent adult living.

When he failed to answer wake-up calls on Monday, September 29 last year staff entered his room and found him hanging in the shower.

Senior residential worker Jacqueline Fogherty said: “He could be quite easy going, very likeable, had impeccable manners, really funny and good company.

“But there was a Paul who had lots and lots of issues and difficulties.”

Social, alcohol and mental health workers all supported Paul with problems including low self-worth, difficulty socialising with peers and self harm which were exacerbated when he got intoxicated.

Mrs Fogherty said staff regularly searched his room for alcohol, supervised his spending, asked local shops not to serve him and went looking for him if they feared he was out drinking.

Police had been involved because he had a habit of absconding and shoplifting alcohol.

In the early hours of the day before his death, police found Paul intoxicated and returned him to the home.

Later on the Sunday he ate lunch and watched TV with staff and other residents and had seemed okay and settled well at bedtime. It later transpired he did go on to drink in a bedroom late at night but it is not known how he got the alcohol or hid it in the house.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Deborah Routledge treated Paul for depression and anxiety and said over the summer he had been doing reasonably well.

She said Paul would often care more about other people than himself including a ‘cluster’ of youths who self harmed- which agencies have since worked with to prevent repeats of Paul’s deaths.

Paul’s family said it was obvious people had cared about him but hope lessons can be learnt to prevent more young people’s deaths.

His father Patrick Mullally, of Stanley, said: “The key will be changes to do with youngsters’ mental health.”

Recording an open ruling, Mr Tweddle said: “What he did, he did to himself that is absolutely clear, but I cannot be sure he intended to.”