THE parents of a troubled teenager who died after being struck by a van said they felt helpless at the hands of the authorities when trying to relieve their son's mental health issues.

Jonathan Wood and Susan Willis said they felt "pushed to one side" when tying to help their son, James Wood, before his death last July.

Speaking at an inquest into his death yesterday, they revealed the 16-year-old had struggled with his mental health for about two years and despite their best efforts, several agencies had said they could not help.

It was only a week after James' death that the family received a letter from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to offer the youngster an appointment.

Sitting at County Hall, in Durham, assistant coroner, Tanyka Rawden, heard how James had been out in Durham on July 11 and for some reason had been walking along the A177 between High Shincliffe and Bowburn, with a friend, into the early hours of the next morning.

James lay down in the road and was hit by a van on the unlit stretch at about 4.20am. He was taken to hospital but died shortly afterwards from his injuries.

PC Nick Downing told the court the van driver, who was present at the inquest, would not have seen James while PC Andrew Wells, of the Spennymoor Road Policing Unit, confirmed there was alcohol and cannabis in his system, as well as a low amount of amphetamine.

A postmortem examination revealed James died from significant head injuries.

James' parents, of Coxhoe, said their son was "lovely" but had struggled after getting into the wrong crowd and had episodes of self harm.

Mr Wood said his son would "disappear for days on end" and turn up at home after sleeping rough.

"It just spiralled," he said. "We could not do anything and we begged for help and were pushed to one side."

"James would be drawn to the worst people," he added. "I tried to get them to section him but they refused until he would engage, so we got CAMHS involved and got a letter for an appointment a week after he died."

Mr Wood said he had also found both threats and offers from drug dealers on James' phone.

Mr Wood said the family had now opened a serious case review with social services.

Mrs Rawden said she could not be certain James had meant to take his own life and concluded he died from a road traffic collision.

She said she would also be asking for a copy of the serious case review to see if any lessons could be learnt.

She said: "I'm quite concerned about some of the things you have been telling me around the lack of support you have been having for the last couple of years."

She added: "I am so sorry for your loss, I cannot imagine what you have been through the last couple of years but James was lucky to have such amazing parents who fought so hard for him."