‘WHAT gave them the right to assault my son?” Carol Pounder asks, her pronounced Lancashire accent placing the emphasis on right.

“If I’d done that to him, I would have been arrested and charged.

What gave anyone the right?

“I know he was no angel. But he had severe emotional problems and he did not deserve to be treated like that.”

It is a refrain Mrs Pounder has repeated again and again over nearly seven years of torment.

But it has never lost its resonance.

Nor has her determination to get justice for her son.

Adam Rickwood was 14 when he was found hanged in his room at Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, near Medomsley, in County Durham, on August 8, 2004.

Hours earlier and on remand 150 miles from his home in Burnley, Lancashire, the teenager – 5ft 1in tall and weighing only eight stone – had been forcibly restrained and left with a bleeding nose when a so-called nose distraction technique was used on him. His crime: refusing to go to his room when told to do so.

Mrs Pounder heard Adam’s last days played out in painful detail at a five-week inquest in Chesterle- Street in 2007, but she did not get the answers she wanted.

Supported by the charity Inquest, her sense of injustice drove her to pursue her fight to the High Court, which quashed the verdict of the first hearing on the grounds it was flawed.

Speaking as the second inquest drew to a close at Easington, she says: “The most difficult part has been not being able to lay Adam to rest properly.

“I wanted truth and justice for Adam. I have never been able to properly mourn his death because of all the lies and cover-ups I have had to deal with.

“I am doing this for Adam. He was a happy-go-lucky lad. A caring child who loved animals. He was an intelligent young lad with potential.”

MRS Pounder says things changed for Adam when four relatives, including a 17-year-old cousin, died within a short space of time. He was ten.

She says: “He loved his grandfather, who was wheelchair bound. Adam was a deep little boy. His grandfather’s death really traumatised him. He couldn’t come to terms with the loss and really went into himself.”

Adam started to show aggressive behaviour – swearing and punching the walls in frustration.

And he began mixing with older boys and smoking cannabis.

She says: “I think he wanted to be macho. To fit in with everyone else. Some people say it is all because of his upbringing, but that is not the case. I did everything for him.”

Mrs Pounder took Adam to a GP, who referred him to an adolescent mental health unit, where he was diagnosed with emotional and behavioural problems.

She says: “Time after time I asked social services for help, but it was like banging my head against a brick wall. When he started going down the wrong road, I felt powerless.”

Adam agreed to voluntary respite care and coped well in the first home, but things did not work out at a second centre and he left it. The downward spiral continued and, in June 2002, he was permanently excluded from school when he was found with a small amount of cannibis. He later admitted to taking ecstasy.

Adam, who self-harmed, came to the attention of police at 13 when he was arrested for burglary and aggravated vehicle taking.

He later breached a tagging order and was then charged with wounding another youth. The court ordered that he be placed in a secure unit.

Mrs Pounder says: “The unit team leader said he was going to Manchester and told Adam, ‘If you are going to run, run’. He did and came home. Adam told me he was petrified.”

Adam went to court voluntarily and he was initially placed in a unit close to home, but it was decided to move him away.

His mother says: “I was very angry with the youth offending team. They said they had found a place in Durham. I didn’t even know where it was. Hassockfield was 150 miles away when the rules were that children should be kept no further than 50 miles from their home.”

Adam ran away again, briefly, but was arrested and on July 10, 2004, was taken to Hassockfield.

Mrs Pounder says: “I was not happy. I never heard from him for a week and was beside myself with worry. When I eventually spoke to Adam he said he couldn’t cope and needed to be home.”

She made the 300-mile round trip twice a week to see him for an hour at a time, but he wrote a series of heartbreaking letters begging for help to get him out.

One said: “I can’t last much longer. I will end up trying to kill myself and this time I will probably succeed. At least then I will be with Nana and Grandad.”

Mrs Pounder attended a meeting on July 20 to find Adam crying uncontrollably.

She says: “He came up to me and said ‘Mum, I need to get out of here. I need to be home. I am either going to hurt myself badly or do myself in’.

“I was assured he would be watched and was told, ‘We have never had a death here and we are not about to have one’.”

THE evening before Adam’s death, Mrs Pounder got a call from his solicitor to say he had been in some kind of fight with member of staff and complained that his nose had been broken.

She says: “I spoke to the manager on call and was told Adam had said not to worry and would call me in the morning. At 3.20am the police arrived at my door. I knew immediately something was wrong with Adam.”

She says: “The first inquest raised more questions than it answered.

The coroner refused to rule on the legality of the restraints – but I was not prepared to leave it there.

“This time, I have been filled with anger – listening to the discrepancies in the evidence of the care officers.”

After the jury returned its findings yesterday, Assistant Deputy Coroner Jeremy Freedman said he hoped it would bring finality, if not closure. He said: “She has had a very, very long wait for this outcome. It would have been an unbelievably difficult time. None of us could imagine or appreciate it. It is a cliche to say that somehow you will find closure, but at least there is some finality here.”

After the hearing, Mrs Pounder said: “I feel I have got truth and justice. If it stops one more child going through what Adam did, or other families having to endure what I have, then it will have been worth it.”