Parents of Bristol University student hope inquest will provide answers following her sudden death

Thursday 23 August 2018

Tom Stoate is instructed by Gus Silverman of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors for the family, supported by INQUEST.

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The parents of a Bristol university student expressed concern about the University of Bristol at pre-inquest review, and hope that the full inquest which will take place next year will answer their questions about the events leading up to their daughter’s sudden death.

Natasha Abrahart, a second year physics student at the University of Bristol, died suddenly on 30 April this year.  She was 20-years-old and originally from Nottingham.

Natasha was the tenth of 11 University of Bristol students to die since October 2016.

The pre-inquest review hearing took place on 22 August before Maria Voisin, the Senior Coroner for Avon, at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court, Bristol. The exact date of the inquest hearing, which will take place next year, is yet to be scheduled.

Natasha’s parents, Robert and Margaret, said:

“Natasha was a wonderful, caring daughter, and was much-loved by everyone who knew her. She was a hard-working, high-achieving individual. She was disciplined, well-organised, persistent, analytical and determined. She had many outside interests including cooking and baking, playing piano, and indoor climbing. She had her whole life in front of her and we still cannot believe that she is no longer with us.

“Over the last two months we have conducted our own in-depth analysis of available material. This has provided a better understanding of what transpired; however, we still have a lot of questions and concerns, which we hope will be addressed by the inquest.

“For the benefit of university students across the country, we want to ensure that any lessons which can be learned from Natasha’s death are identified and acted upon.

“We know that the inquest process is going to be a difficult and upsetting time but we are determined to understand what happened and if more could have been done to keep our daughter safe when she was away from home at university.”

Tom Stoate, representing the family said:

"We take this opportunity to note the family's particular concern that a student as vulnerable as Natasha appears to have had no direct contact from the student wellbeing service. We think that this is potentially a very serious omission."

He added that the family also believed Natasha could have "fallen into a gap" between the university and health professionals involved in treating her.

"The family are also particularly concerned about the apparent lack of information sharing between the NHS agencies and the university."

Stoate said the family was worried that the university, in its submission to the court, said that no changes had been made to the system since Abrahart's death.

"We consider that this many indicate the presence of a continuing risk which may give rise to future deaths of students at Bristol University", he said.

Gus Silverman, an expert public law and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Natasha’s parents, said:

“The number of recent deaths amongst students at the University of Bristol has been a matter of considerable, and understandable, public concern.

“Natasha’s family now look forward to a full and fearless investigation of the circumstances surrounding her death.”

The case has been reported widely including by GuardianHuffington Post and BBC.

Tom Stoate is a member of Garden Court's Inquest and Inquiries Team.

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