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Artist Alison Lapper says son, 19, was bullied at school over her disability before his shocking overdose death last month: 'I couldn’t help'

'I don’t want my son to be remembered as a junkie. The drugs were a consequence of what he had been through', the disabled artist said
Alison Lapper (Getty Images)
Alison Lapper (Getty Images)

Disabled artist Alison Lapper's son, Parys, who was found dead in a hotel room last month reportedly turned to drugs in an attempt to cope with bullying at school.

The mother, during a recent interview, revealed that her 19-year-old son was left depressed and anxious after he was taunted by his school peers about her disability. Lapper was born with phocomelia, a condition which produces defects similar to those caused by the drug Thalidomide. "He was out of control and I couldn’t help. Not being able to help, I felt so bloody useless," Lapper told The Times.

Lapper rose to prominence when she posed for an iconic marble plinth when she was eight months pregnant with Parys. The plinth, designed by Marc Quinn, was hailed as his most powerful work in decades and was on display at London's Trafalgar Square from 2005 to 2007.

Lapper was left heartbroken after her son was discovered dead last month, nearly 20 years after the statue's unveiling. Reports state that Parys was found at a hotel in Worthing and is believed to have died from an accidental overdose.

Alison Lapper poses near the sculpture by British artist Marc Quinn entitled "Alison Lapper Pregnant" as it is unveiled on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth on September 15, 2005 in London, England. The statue is a portrait of disabled artist Lapper, who is portrayed naked and eight months pregnant.The statue will be displayed until April 2007. (Getty Images)

"I don’t want my son to be remembered as a junkie, as just another drugs death," Lapper said. "The drugs were a consequence of what he had been through. Mums like me shouldn’t be burying 19-year-old kids, should we? He’s supposed to be burying me."

The heartbroken mother also revealed how her once-confident son told her that he did not want her to come to parents' evening at his high school in Shoreham-by-Sea near Brighton. "I could see how anxious he was. We were the show. The next day, Parys would go in and they would rip pieces out of him," Lapper said, adding that her son was moved to a smaller unit at the school as a result.

She said he soon dropped out and began spending more time online. He was depressed at this time, and it was made worse when he became more self-conscious about his body, Lapper said.

British artist Alison Lapper attends a news conference with her son Parys on April 24, 2006 in Seoul, South Korea. Lapper, who was born in 1965 without arms and shortened legs, the result of a medical condition called phocomelia, is attending her photography exhibition in Seoul. (Getty Images)

When her son was 16, Lapper was forced to have him put into care but would often visit him at the hospital. She was convinced he was recovering after he moved into a halfway house and got a new job.

Lapper's partner, Si Clift, also paid a tribute to Parys on Facebook, saying: "Please take away from this some essence of love and kindness and act upon it."

"Keep Parys in the forefront of your minds and hearts for a long while... He was a mischievous, generous, kind, loving, frustrating, cheeky, forgiving, beautiful boy. He was his own man. He was a good son," Clift added.