Well-loved Eastbourne teenager found on Hastings beach died after drug-induced ‘psychotic episode’, inquest told

Carl Kelly
Carl Kelly

A teenager died after suffering an ‘advanced psychotic episode’ brought on by drugs, an inquest heard this week.

Eighteen-year-old Carl Kelly, of St Leonard’s Road, had last been seen leaving a birthday party in Avondale Road in the early hours of the morning of Saturday, March 26.

A major Facebook campaign was launched to find him first by his desperate family and friends and then by Sussex Police.

But his body was found on Rock-a-Nore beach in Hastings by a member of the public at around 6.30pm on March 31.

The inquest, which was held yesterday (Tuesday, August 23), heard Carl had taken amphetamines and MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, at the party.

Dr Ian Hawley, pathologist, said the postmortem revealed the amount of drugs in his body was consistent with recreational use.

Witnesses at the party told the inquest that Carl, a former Ratton School pupil and Sussex Downs College student, had started ‘freaking out’ after taking the drugs.

One said he thought he was in a ‘different dimension’ and kept asking questions.

Witnesses also said the teenager jumped out of the first-floor window at the house where the party was before running off out of the garden and disappearing.

His friends searched around town for Carl but were unable to find him.

The inquest heard Carl did take drugs from time to time.

Within days after Carl’s death, hundreds of people paid tribute to him on social media, friends released lanterns in his memory, and a minute’s silence was held at a football match by his former team Blackhawks.

One friend, who spoke at the inquest and cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “Carl was very joyful and happy and always tried to make everyone else happy around him.”

In a statement read at the inquest, Carl’s mother, Brenda Harrison, said: “Carl loved life. He wanted to join the Army at one point and was in the Marine Cadets in Eastbourne until he was 15 when he left because he wanted to focus more on his studies.

“In the end he decided he didn’t want to join the Army as he wanted kids and didn’t want to leave them fatherless if he was killed in action.

“Carl was strong-willed and had his own opinions on things.

“He got scared when he took drugs and said he was giving up taking them.”

She added she was due to meet with Carl on Easter Sunday (March 27) for a family get-together.

Coroner Alan Craze concluded Carl’s death was drugs related.

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