A transgender woman fell into a “downward spiral” as she suffered “constant” abuse while she spent two-and-a-half years on a waiting list for treatment, a court has heard. 

A jury was sworn in this morning (Monday, November 20) in the inquest of 24-year-old Amarnih Lewis-Daniel at East London Coroner's Court.

Amarnih was found dead in Chadwell Heath on March 17, 2021, in the car park outside her seventh-storey flat. 

Coroner Nadia Persaud told the jurors they would have to consider whether she had intended to bring about her own death and her involvement with public bodies like the Metropolitan Police and mental health service North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) before it happened. 

Jurors were told Amarnih had multiple interactions with police, probation and mental health workers in the weeks leading up to her death after three incidents.

In one, she was taken into custody for criminal damage after throwing home appliances out of her flat window.

The court heard Amarnih was on a waiting list for treatment by the Tavistock Clinic, a gender identity service, but the clinic is not involved in the inquest as she was never actually seen. 

Mrs Persaud said waiting lists for gender identity services were “in very concerning condition”. 

In statements read to the jury, Amarnih’s mother Angela Lewis-Campbell described her as a “kind-hearted, protected and fiercely loving” person, but added that she was “a very secretive child and the same as an adult.”

Born male, she identified as a female “from a young age”, her mother wrote. 

Amarnih grew up in Walthamstow and began displaying emotional and behavioural issues from age four, the court was told, spending much of her childhood in pupil referral units. 

She finally began presenting herself publicly as female at age 13. 

“Because of her apparent differences she faced a lot of bullying and abuse in her short life,” said Mrs Lewis-Campbell. “She knew what it was like to feel isolated and upset.”

As a result, she said, Amarnih “did everything within her power to ensure that others did not have to feel the way she did.”

Whilst living in a hostel, her mother said, Amarnih befriended a homeless man, delivering him food and blankets and topping up his Oyster card. 

“She made him feel seen, loved and appreciated,” said Mrs Lewis-Campbell. 

An “amazing” dancer who participated in ballroom competitions, the court heard Amarnih was “playful and confident” as a child, but grew less sure of herself as she got older. 

“She felt unsafe in society,” her mother wrote. 

“She could not cope with how cruel and mean society was towards her.

“People constantly bullied her and teased her… She could only take so much before it got to her.”

Despite being “beautiful and attractive”, her mother wrote, Amarnih “used to blame herself when people were horrible to her. It made her feel that there was something wrong with her.” 

She was “bullied at work and treated bad and mocked at college”. 

Amarnih was such a talented hairdresser that people would come to the salon she worked at especially for her, said Mrs Lewis-Campbell. 

But, she alleged, “the people she worked with started tormenting her.”

Amarnih quit college, quit her job and her life went into “a downward spiral”. 

She got into trouble with the police several times for fighting, the court heard. 

“She had to beat the bullies, before they got to her,” her mother wrote. 

Her mental health deteriorated and she was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and traits of emotionally unstable personality disorder. 

She was also sent for anger management therapy in late 2019, jurors were told.

“Amarnih, towards the end, scared me,” her mother wrote. 

Her daughter became “very secluded and agitated”, going days without answering her phone. 

She grew “paranoid”, said Mrs Lewis-Campbell, repeatedly changing the locks on her flat door and sleeping on her sofa instead of going to bed. 

When asked why, she said, “I’m just keeping look-out, Mum.” 

“Amarnih became very, very anxious,” her mum said. 

On January 29, 2021, police were called to Amarnih’s home in Highview House, off of Whalebone Lane, because she was “throwing items from her seventh-floor window”, said Mrs Persaud. 

She was taken into custody and seen by a mental health nurse. 

She had further contact with police on March 6, the court heard, and became involved with the probation service on March 8. 

Both bodies are represented by counsel at the inquest as interested parties, as are NELFT and Barking and Dagenham Council. 

NELFT had discharged Amarnih as her mental health problems were not severe enough to merit ongoing monitoring, testified consultant psychiatrist Meena Naguib.  

NELFT had no specialism in gender dysphoria and the doctor felt that it was the responsibility of the Tavistock to offer support to those on its waiting list. 

Dr Naguib added that both police and probation could have referred Amarnih back to NELFT if she appeared to be struggling with her mental health. 

On the day of her death, March 17, police were called to a disturbance at Amarnih’s mother’s home, but Amarnih had committed no crime and was free to go. 

She called NELFT’s autism assessment team later that day. 

Later, said Mrs Persaud, emergency services were called to Amarnih’s home. 

“There was a fire in her flat and she was found in the car park outside her flat window,” she said. 

She told the 11 jurors they must consider: “Did Amarnih take the action that led to her death, and did she intend to bring about her death at that time?”

Amarnih had no history of suicidal ideation, said Dr Naguib, and only one past incident of self-harm, in 2016. 

But, he added, she was “impulsive”.

The inquest continues.