At the inquest into Dylan Lee’s death in August, the Coroner decided it wasn’t in his remit to consider whether years of alleged racial harassment, and failures by local police to respond to this, could have contributed to Dylan’s decision to take his own life.
Jane, Dylan’s mum, thinks the Coroner should have called proper evidence on those issues and taken them into account. She has now filed formal judicial review proceedings against the Coroner, challenging his failure to do so.
Dylan’s family have Romani Gypsy heritage. After Jane sold the family home and moved onto land they owned in their village, their neighbours began to target them with racially-motivated harassment and abuse. At one point they circulated a petition to “rid the village of gypsies”. Jane called the police more than 20 times in two years, but she says they refused to treat the incidents as hate crimes and didn’t do enough to end the campaign of abuse. The torment and lack of hope tragically wore down Dylan’s spirit.
As a result of the Coroner’s approach to the inquest, only partial evidence on these matters was considered. Dylan’s mum believes that evidence is essential to understanding why her boy with such a bright future was driven to take his own life.
Jane said: “Dylan was a boy who could have chosen to do anything with his life. He believed in justice and he was let down time after time. The Coroner chose to limit the evidence in Court. This again let Dylan down… You can’t draw conclusions from one side of a story. Only when all of the evidence is heard can a conclusion be drawn. Dylan was let down in life and paid the ultimate price. Dylan deserves to be heard; it’s the only right course of action.”
The legal arguments around this case are complex, but Jane’s ask is simple. She wants the Court to confirm that the Coroner should have considered the impact of their neighbours’ actions, and the police’s failure to deal with these, on Dylan’s state of mind. She has also asked that the Court orders Dylan’s inquest be re-run on that basis.
The Coroner and Durham Police, which is ‘an interested party’, now have 21 days to file any formal response to the claim, after which the Court will decide whether to grant permission for Jane to proceed.
Jane wants justice and recognition that the state failed Dylan and her family. We agree, and we will stand alongside her throughout these proceedings.
This case raises important issues about the ways in which Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are systematically failed by UK institutions and authorities. We believe their human rights are being breached by these failures.
Good Law Project is working with the Traveller Movement, and with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, to confront and address the long-running discrimination and abuse they face.
Help us continue this important work to ensure that no communities are left behind or so completely failed by the systems we should all be able to rely on.
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