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
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
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: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links