Talented Dagenham teen found dying

A straight A student may have been suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness in the months before his death, an inquest heard.

David Turay, 19, was found by his dad Peter after stabbing himself in the kitchen of their Dagenham home shortly before 6am on the morning of November 5 last year, and died an hour later.

Mr Turay told Walthamstow Coroner’s Court on Thursday how he had woken earlier on the morning of his son’s death feeling cold and had “got up to investigate” but found his son asleep.

After praying for ten or fifteen minutes, he returned to bed but was disturbed by the sound of a noise in the kitchen.

He said: “I came downstairs to check it out and found David lying on the floor.

“He said to me, ‘Daddy, is that you?’ I said, ‘yes David, it’s me’.”

A knife was found beside David, with another on the side, and although Mr Turay called 999, David was pronounced dead at 6.57am.

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Mr Turay described David, a talented musician, as “academically astute” but said that in January 2014 the teenager announced that he wanted to drop out of his studies at Wanstead High School in Wanstead, just six months before his exams.

It was in the subsequent months that David spent various lengths of time living with friends he met on the music scene.

His mother, Grace Turay, told how when David failed to maintain contact with his family for a couple of months during the summer of last year a few of his friends brought his saxophone to the house in a bid to get him home.

Mrs Turay told how she and her husband had attempted to seek help from the mental health charity Mind, but were told that because David was an adult, he needed to approach the charity himself or provide permission for his parents to do so.

In the days leading up to his death, David had told both his parents that the family needed to leave the country and return to Sierra Leone.

Mr Turay said: “He was very afraid. He said, ‘We must leave this country or something is going to happen.’ When I asked him what he was afraid of, he said, ‘you don’t understand, Daddy’.”

He told the court that on the day before David’s death, his son had attempted to sell his musical instruments. It is believed that this was his attempt to raise enough money to leave the country.

Senior coroner Nadia Persaud recorded an open verdict, acknowledging that David was suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness but had never discussed harming himself, nor done so prior. She said: “I do not feel I can find beyond reasonable doubt that David killed himself intentionally.”

Speaking to the Post after the inquest, Mr Turay said: “Nothing we can say or do can bring David back, but I wouldn’t want this to happen to any other family.”