A FORMER St Gregory's High School pupil was found dead ‘two minutes’ walk’ from his home – 53 hours after police mounted an extensive search, an inquest in Warrington heard today.

Connor Green was found in woodland in Halebank, Widnes, at 8.30pm on Monday, August 1.

The 19-year-old, who grew up in Warrington, was about to be taken to hospital from his home after suffering from a drugs overdose when he ran off from an ambulance.

Paramedics immediately notified the police.

Officers graded Connor, who has Asperger’s, as ‘high risk’ and scoured the neighbourhood, checked with his friends and alerted bus and train operators to scan CCTV footage.  

A police helicopter combed the riverbank and the area beside his home but was unable to search nearby woodland because tree canopies prevented their heat-seeking equipment from working.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) examined the timed log of action recorded during the hunt.

Details revealed that the search was downgraded after unsubstantiated sightings of Connor were reported in Warrington - just as six additional police officers were drafted in to help, the inquest heard.

The IPCC said a superintendent later acknowledged lowering the priority was a mistake.

An off-duty police specialist search and rescue expert had offered advice remotely as another high risk case in Macclesfield tied up resources.

Julia Young, from the IPCC, told the inquest: “It is impossible to say for definite but Connor could have been found if a search specialist had been available at the scene.”

Connor started using cannabis to combat his anxiety when he was 11 because he was bullied at school, the inquest heard.

He became addicted to a range of illicit drugs he bought online including diazepam and opiates.

His mum Pauline, 42, resuscitated him several times after finding him unconscious and gave up her nursing job because he ‘needed 24 hour care’.

She said Connor ‘self medicated’ to deal with his own symptoms but it had ‘turned into an addiction’.

“His knowledge of drugs seemed vast,” she said. “He thought he was invincible,” she said.

Connor was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMS) after several overdoses led to A&E admissions and he was sectioned at one stage in a psychiatric unit.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Nieves Mercadillo of the 5 Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust said: “For such a young man to become so addicted he needed more assessment. It was a long process.”

Connor was discharged for further analysis but, following communication breakdowns between various departments, he did not receive the proposed follow up care.

Mum Pauline said: “I was begging them to come out to the house.”

Amanda Archer, investigating lead for CAMS, said: “Lapses and gaps in care were identified that required action. Lessons have been learnt.”

The day before he disappeared Connor went to a party in Saxon Park in Sankey with 17 people in four tents.

Pauline  said: “When he came home he was very wobbly. He went blue. I dialled 999 for an ambulance. He agreed to go to hospital but ran off.”

Assistant Coroner for Cheshire Dr Janet Napier said that Connor died from combined drug toxicity and recorded a verdict of a drug related death.

Dr Napier said: “This is a sad situation, a tragedy.

“Connor was obviously a very much loved family member.

“Delays concerning the difficulties in mental health have been recommended and acted upon.” 

After the inquest, chief superintendent Nick Bailey, head of professional standards, said:  "I would like to pass on my condolences to Connor’s family - the past six months have been an extremely difficult time for them. 

“The action taken by the force in relation to Connor’s disappearance on 30 July 2016 has been independently reviewed after being referred to the Independent Police Complaints’ Commission. 

"We have seen a copy of the draft report and are satisfied that officers acted appropriately and proportionately and pursued all lines of enquiry based on the information available at the time. 

“We always work closely alongside the IPCC to address any issues of concern or points of learning.  In this case, no significant issues have been identified.”

A spokesman for 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We offer our sincere condolences to Mr Green’s family for the loss of their much-loved family member. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to them.

“Following Mr Green’s death the trust launched a serious incident investigation to thoroughly examine the care he received.

“As a result of that comprehensive investigation, we have made a number of changes to improve the care given to future patients, including improvements to the discharge planning process and multidisciplinary team working arrangements in the community.

“The trust would like to assure Mr Green’s family that these improvements will continue throughout the organisation.”