Fostered teen died at party after drinking.
Byline: Tom Wilkinson Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
AFOSTER child who was found hanging at a house party was "very drunk" having downed whisky in a drinking game, an inquest heard.
Fourteen-year-old Sarah Clerkson went to bed after she was sick and partygoers found her an hour later.
Her foster father Andrew Young told the hearing at Crook Civic Centre that she had settled in with the family well and they had told her their intention was to make the arrangement long-term.
Coroner Andrew Tweddle said the only conclusion was an "open one", as there was no indication she intended to kill herself at the party in County Durham in December 2013.
Detective Inspector Wendy Tinkler, who investigated the death, said Sarah told people at the party she was in care and that she wanted to stay over. They told her she should call her foster parents to say she was not coming home. The detective said: "There was a drinking game which Sarah did take part in. It involved the loser having to drink an alcoholic drink and Sarah was described as having drunk quite a considerable amount of whisky and Disaronno."
Later that evening she was found to be "quite heavily intoxicated" and was sick in the landing. She was helped to a bedroom by another party-goer and allowed to go to sleep. Just over an hour later the concerned young people found her in the bedroom. Attempts were made to revive her and an ambulance was called but she could not be saved.
Earlier, her foster father told the inquest Sarah had been living with them since the October. Mr Young agreed when Mr Tweddle said: "It is clear Sarah had had quite a troubled time in the weeks, months and possibly years prior to coming to you."
Mr Young said: "I thought she was getting better, I thought it was extremely positive. She was really bubbly, polite and friendly."
To give a conclusion of suicide, the coroner said he would have to be sure she intended to kill herself. He could not be certain, due to her drunkenness, her age and a lack of a note or other indicators. A review by Sunderland Safeguarding Children Board will be published in the coming weeks.