Jessie Eastland-Seares

Born in Brighton in early December 2002, Jessie was just 19 when she died 18 months ago, on 17 May 2022.

Jessie loved her birthday, and her Mum, Kate, remembers how planning for her birthday usually started the day after the last one. She liked the Christmas tree to be up in time for her birthday in early December.

Before she died Jessie had been planning to return to Paris with her parents on her 20th birthday. Jessie had fond memories of visiting as a younger child and she’d fallen in love with the Eifel Tower. Family holidays each year took them to various places in Europe, and regularly to Devon and Cornwall.

Jessie is remembered as a kind, generous, funny, impulsive, strong, colourful, inspiring, unique and unforgettable activist and young woman. She is also remembered by her friends for her capacity to care for others, even in the darkest of times.

[You can read more about Jessie, what happened to her and the evidence from her inquest in the blog posts linked below].

“It is the conclusion of the Jury that systematic failures in Health and Social care led to a series of events, which caused the deceased periods of dysregulation culminating in regular bouts of self-harm, which ultimately ended in death by misadventure.”

The coroner noted:

Jessie had been diagnosed with Autistic spectrum disorder, ADHD, Complex traumatic stress disorder and emotional unstable personality disorder. Following a breakdown in the provision of her support package Jessie’s mental health deteriorated and was detained under Section 3 Mental Health Act 1983. She remained in Hospital from 4th March 2022 until the time of her death.

She also observed the following when issuing her Prevention of Future Deaths Report:

Sadly this case exposes the total inadequate level of community provision for the care and treatment of those with suffering with Autism. This is a national problem and sadly leads to many experiencing unnecessary admissions to inpatient mental health facilities and also A&E attendances. Despite a report from the Health and Social Care committee from 2021 this case showed that there does not seem to have been any real improvement and more lives are likely to be lost. Reading from this report, it says “The conclusion of this report was that Autistic people (and people with learning disabilities) have the right to live independent, free, and fulfilled lives in the community and it is an unacceptable violation of their human rights to deny them the chance to do so.” The report identified that “the community support and provision for autistic people (and those with learning difficulties) and financial investment in those services is significantly below the level required to meet the needs of those individuals and to provide adequate support for them in the community”.

Family Statement

We welcome the Jury’s findings and feel they got a real sense of who Jessie was, of all her difficulties, and the fight as parents that we have had with health services and East Sussex County Council, since 2016.

Jessie was often misunderstood and badly treated since she was 14. This added layers of traumatic experiences to her young life, exacerbating her anxiety, and resulting in complex PTSD.

Jessie’s physical pain and conditions were often brushed aside or simply ignored, especially since she turned 18. Mental health units just do not have the right accommodation, equipment, skilled staff or interest to support people with physical disabilities and illnesses.

It is so utterly disappointing that both Brighton & Hove City Council, and East Sussex County Council, completely failed to deal with safeguarding enquires appropriately, and in a timely manner. This had a significant detrimental effect on Jessie’s wellbeing, and on the family, as she was being abused and neglected by care staff in the community. We call for the practice of using unregulated agencies (which are then able to avoid accountability) to care for the most vulnerable, to be banned.

As we mentioned in our inquest statements, the way we as parents have been treated since 2016, by services who are supposed to be there to help and support, is inexcusable. There is no need for the arrogance and dismissive attitudes we saw demonstrated time and time again, by some social workers and their managers. Instead of parent-blaming, they should be looking hard at their own actions and damage they are causing to families, who want to work with them and are desperate for some compassionate support and help.

The multiple, repeated, systemic failures in Jessie’s care definitely led to her death.

Jessie was our beloved, loving, caring, bright, funny, creative and intelligent daughter. She wanted to eventually work and help in the care sector. We miss her every minute of every day. Her death has left us devastated. Our lives are changed forever, but most of all Jessie lost her life unnecessarily and avoidably,  at such a young age.  Tomorrow would have been her 21st birthday. We should have been celebrating and having fun, but instead we are grieving.

We thank the Jury, the Coroner and our Legal Team for the care, compassion and interest they have shown in Jessie’s story and towards getting the right outcome for Jessie.

Andy Seares and Kate Eastland