Brat Camp teenager died from overdose

A troubled teenager who appeared on the Channel 4 programme Family Brat Camp to mend his errant ways fell back into drugs and died from an overdose less than three years later, an inquest heard today.



Benjamin Tait had a chequered school career and problems with anger management when he and his parents featured on the reality TV show in late 2006.

But although his family felt he could "turn a corner" at the time, he soon regressed, and died in January after a drug-fuelled evening with a college friend.

The inquest heard Mr Tait, 18, had been forced to leave his home in Oxford following a dispute with a drug-dealer.

After a brief spell living in a hostel in Cambridge, where he was pressured into taking crack cocaine, he moved to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, and started a catering course at Cherwell College.

But his plans went awry on the night of January 7 when he and a close friend, Gareth Alderman, 19, spent an evening together at Mr Alderman's grandfather's house nearby.

The pair, who had bought a bottle of vodka the previous day, went upstairs and Mr Tait began looking for a DVD.

But instead he stumbled upon a bottle of Oramorph - a pain killer which had been used by Mr Alderman's ailing grandmother before her death.

He was unable to resist temptation, a mistake which cost him his life.

"We went upstairs and smoked two or three spliffs then opened the vodka," Mr Alderman, also from Banbury, told the inquest.

"He (Mr Tait) said he didn't drink it straight so I went downstairs and got some Cherryade and came back up."

He said Mr Tait spoke to his mother an hour or so after that, before he came across the painkillers in a wardrobe.

The pair looked for some needles with which to take the drug, before realising it needed to be mixed with a liquid.

"There was a box of morphine," Mr Alderman said. "He (Mr Tait) said, 'have you got any needles?' I said, 'I don't know.'

"We looked through the box and there were no needles.

"Then he looked at the box and he said it had to be mixed with a soft drink."

Using the Cherryade, they knocked back the concoction before falling asleep.

Mr Alderman said the next thing he remembered was waking up.

He broke down in tears as he told the inquest: "I looked at his face and he looked extremely ill. He was blue with sick in his mouth and I just panicked."

An ambulance was called and Mr Tait was taken to Horton Hospital in Banbury where he was later pronounced dead.

A post-mortem showed his brain was "very swollen" and his lungs were "very congested". forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt told the inquest.

He was found to have a fatal amount of morphine in his system.

Recording a verdict of accidental death at Oxfordshire Coroner's Court, in Oxford, coroner Nick Gardiner said: "He (Mr Tait) lost his life but I'm sure he didn't take drugs other than in a careless fashion and that his death can properly be registered as an accident in that he didn't intend the result."

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Tait's uncle, Paul Boyle, from east London, said the inquest had "reopened the heartache" for Mr Tait's parents.

And he said though Jennifer and Matthew Tait had been in daily contact with their son, they had been unable to help him.

"They're absolutely traumatised. Ben died on his sister's birthday. It goes without saying that the entire family is distraught."

He said the teenager had been in trouble since the age of 14 - smoking cannabis, stealing to fund his drug habit and skipping school. He was once arrested for causing damage.

"They were prepared to try anything to help their child," he said. "Appearing on Brat Camp was one of the many things they did as good parents to help their child grow up into a responsible adult."

In their efforts to bring him back on to the straight and narrow, Mr Tait and his parents had taken part in the Channel 4 programme designed to help troubled teenagers mend their ways at a special camp in the United States.

But Mr Tait was unable to shake off his bad habits and in 2007, "happy slappings" of the teenager began to appear on the internet video site YouTube.

The boy went missing for a spell but was later found safe, following a local newspaper campaign and a police search.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Invoicing Clerk

£14500 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are contractors to...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Administrator / Marketing Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of packag...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales - OTE £30,000

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a rapidly expanding offi...

Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy