We are raising money for the inquest of Christopher Laskaris, a vulnerable young man with Aspergers Syndrome who was murdered in his home aged 24.
Our lovely Christopher was a bright, but very vulnerable, young man with Aspergers Syndrome (a form of high functioning autism). He was loving, endearing and quirky, and a talented musician who played trombone in the National Children’s Orchestra as a child, and loved nothing more than jamming on electric guitar and writing songs. He saw life in a totally different way, which gave him a unique and brilliant sense of humour.
Christopher struggled to live independently because of his Aspergers, and had periods of mental health crisis. He and his family were trying tirelessly to get him access to the specialist support and help he needed to live safely, but tragically he never received this and was living alone and unsupported in a flat in Leeds.
We were horrified to find out after his death that, during a mental health crisis, the police had forced entry to Christopher’s flat to check his welfare. Despite knowledge of his risk history and vulnerability, he was then left without a secure front door for 5 days. None of his family were contacted or notified. During this period, a violent criminal, and his girlfriend wandered into Christopher’s home and began grooming and exploiting him. Because of his Aspergers, Christopher was very trusting of everyone he met, and would have thought they were his friends. This was to have tragic consequences.
At the age of 24, Christopher was murdered in his own home, by that criminal.
His murderer, Philip Craig, was jailed for life. He had a long history of knife crime who had been housed near Christopher, and had just been released from prison on licence when he stabbed him.
When sentencing the killer, the judge said:
"[Christopher] was vulnerable and he lacked insight into his vulnerability. You preyed on this and saw him as someone you could use to your advantage”
“His difficulties in life were not of his making: he needed help and support, not exploitation and abuse.”
Words cannot begin to describe how Christopher’s death has affected us. It is unbearable to lose someone you love in such awful circumstances and to think of his suffering, having his life cruelly cut so short alone and far from all those who loved him. He is loved and missed every moment of every day.
There is a huge hole in the centre of our family, and the pain will be with us for the rest of our lives.What next
Although there has been a full murder trial, the Coroner has decided to hold an inquest to explore the tragic circumstances of the case further, and, we hope, the specific events and situations in the lead up to Christopher's murder.
We hope that we can use this opportunity to get the answers we need to help us understand and process this needless tragedy. We also hope that this can shine a light on some of the preventable circumstances that led to this happening, so that positive changes can be made to prevent anyone else from going through what Christopher did.
The inquest will be another very painful and harrowing process for us. However, we feel that it is so important to get Christopher the truth and justice he deserves, to validate his short life and, we hope, trigger changes that can help protect other vulnerable people.
There are unanswered questions about the Community Rehabilition Company (CRC) that the killer's supervision had been outsourced to at the time of the murder, and also as to why and how Christopher was left exposed to such risks in the light of his known vulnerability and risk history, and why he did not receive the professional support he so badly needed to live a safe and fulfilling life. We know that many other people with Autism Spectrum Disorders or mental health difficulties are also struggling in a similar way to Christopher, which makes an independent investigation into this even more urgent.
We have launched this Crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the case to be properly legally represented through the inquest process, in the face of state agency lawyers and a very complex area of law.
Sadly, there is currently no automatic legal aid for families bereaved by state related deaths, even though open investigations of these deaths is so vital to improve our state services and prevent future deaths. By contrast, all of the state agencies that will be at the inquest have unlimited access to state-funded legal teams, which creates a very unbalanced and unequal process. This is something the charity INQUEST campaign tirelessly for: https://www.inquest.org.uk/legal-aid-for-inquests
As a bereaved family, there is no way that we can cope with this complex and lengthy legal process on our own. We desperately want Christopher’s voice to be heard, and for that we need lawyers who are trained and experienced in inquests.
We never dreamt that we would find ourselves in this position, coping with a traumatic and tragic loss, and now having to raise large sums of money to fund our legal representation through the inquest process, the sole purpose of which is to get the answers we so badly need, and justice for Christopher. How you can help
Thank you for reading our story. Any support and donations would be so gratefully received, as it shows us that Christopher’s life mattered and that people do care about protecting vulnerable people like him and changing our society for the better.
It would also mean so much if you are able to share our page on social media and spread the word to friends and groups who might be interested in helping our cause.
Christopher was kind and caring, and with so much potential to live a happy, fulfilling life. He had much to offer and did not deserve to be let down and abused in the way he was.
This is not the sort of world we want to live in – we believe that every life matters, whether you have mental health struggles or not, and when bad things happen they need to be understood so that we can make sure they don’t happen again.
We would do anything to stop other families from going through what we are going through, and to protect the other ‘Christophers’ out there.
We are also so grateful to INQUEST for their help and support, and to the National Autistic Society for backing our campaign: https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/media-centre/news/2019-04-18-christopher-laskaris.aspx Find out more
If you are interested in finding out more about Autism and how it can make people vulnerable, click on the following links:United Nations speech from world-leading Autism expert, Simon Baron-Cohen National Autistic Society's 'Careless' campaign, highlighting the vulnerability of Autistic people in societyAutism Memorial, a website flagging the huge number of autistic homicide victims