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'I saw teen just before his DEATH'

PUBLISHED: 16:41 02 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:17 23 August 2010

CRY FOR HELP: Edward Barry

CRY FOR HELP: Edward Barry

A 14-YEAR-OLD boy who was found dead in a flat begged for help while high on drugs just THREE days before his death, the Reporter can reveal. Edward Barry, a pupil at Gravesend Grammar School, was taken to a drop-in centre as he pleaded for help to save

A 14-YEAR-OLD boy who was found dead in a flat begged for help while high on drugs just THREE days before his death, the Reporter can reveal.

Edward Barry, a pupil at Gravesend Grammar School, was taken to a drop-in centre as he pleaded for help to save his life.

Tragically the voluntary-run GAS4P (Gravesham Addiction Striving 4 Progress) was shut.

If he had attended the centre in Brewhouse Yard, off Queen Street, Gravesend, between 9am and 4pm any other weekday, he could have been helped.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he is now racked with guilt after trying to help the drug-addled teenager who appeared high on ecstasy and standing in the middle of Parrock Street pleading for help.

Three days later police found his body in a flat in Parrock Street, Gravesend, on the morning of Friday November 19.

He said: "He was completely gone, spaced out and I could see he needed help. I went over to him and I could just make out the word GASP. He was standing in the middle of the road, all over the place. He was definitely on drugs, probably Ecstasy he could barely walk but it was a cry for help.

"I took him straight there and it was shut. He was asking for help and that is what's choking the heart out of me," he said clearly shaken.

He added: "Why did I not have another five minutes, why, why, why?

"I know the centre cannot be open all the time but I keep asking myself if it was open could he have been saved.

"After we saw it was shut he just wondered off and that's my last memory of that boy. I went home because I have been ill and my heart sank when I saw his picture in the Reporter. I'm devastated."

GAS4P volunteers can only work with those over the age of 18 but they would have immediately referred him for help to the Kent Drug and Alcohol Action Team (KDAAT) if he asked for help.

Speaking this week volunteer Gabriel Francis said: "This is one of those horrible things and we feel terrible we could not help.

"We cannot work with people under 18 but had he came in any other day we would certainly have called KDAAT and tried to get him help. Who knows he could have survived.

"The centre is voluntary run and we are all at college on a Tuesday, it's a terrible shame."

Since the teen's death police have spoken to Mr Francis who confirmed they had not come in to contact with him before his death.

Angela Slaven, Director, Youth and Community Support Services at Kent County Council said: "We would like to extend our thanks to the man you have interviewed for his efforts to help Edward and for his concern for young people. We have been struck by the way the community in Gravesend has been so supportive to young people at this very sad time."

In Gravesham the Kent Drug and Alcohol Action Team commission treatment services from KCA for young people. These services provide prevention and specialist treatment and are staffed by trained drug and alcohol workers.

Youngsters should call KCA on 01634 338640 for help or visit foryoungpeople.co.uk or talktofrank.com, which has a search facility for treatment services.

Mrs Slaven confirmed street-based youth workers from Gravesham had been working with his friends in the Lord Street and Parrock Street area.

She added: "In the aftermath of this young man's untimely death, they have re-prioritised their other work in the borough in order to offer dedicated support to young people who knew him and others who have been affected by what has happened in their local community."

Kent Police said it could take up to five weeks for findings from toxicology reports to come back as they seek a cause of death.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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