Broadmoor patient asks for forgiveness in bid for release
A Broadmoor hospital patient made an emotional plea to be discharged last night as a tribunal retired to decide whether he could be released after nearly 25 years behind bars.
Albert Haines, 52, took the stand yesterday at the end of a landmark mental health tribunal – the first to be heard in public in British history. Asking the three tribunal judges to free him, he said: "I've done wrong. I've been trying to put my life straight and I want to be forgiven."
Mr Haines won a landmark legal ruling earlier this year to have his tribunal heard in open court. Mental health tribunals are usually heard behind closed doors as they contain evidence based on patient records.
He has agreed to waive his right to confidentiality because he distrusts the mental health system after more than two decades in high and medium security hospitals following a conviction for two counts of attempted wounding in September 1986,
After hearing evidence from Mr Haines, family members and staff at the high-security psychiatric institution, the tribunal will decide whether he can be released. A decision will be made within the next seven days.
It is highly unusual, although not unheard of, for patients at high security facilities like Broadmoor to be released straight into the free world. The vast majority move to medium-security facilities and hostels prior to full release.
Giving evidence, Mr Haines said an unconditional release would be his "dream" and that he wanted to "get away" from the strict regimen of a secure hospital. But he also said he recognised he would have to agree to any conditions set by the tribunal: "I would have to comply otherwise I'd be brought back again."
Doctors at Broadmoor are resisting his application and argue he still poses a threat to the public. Anne White, a social worker at Broadmoor, told the tribunal Mr Haines was "exceptionally aggressive and antagonistic".
"He's very controlled here, holding himself together but unfortunately at Broadmoor that's often not the case," she said. She described how a heath assistant had to be treated in hospital after being bitten by Mr Haines.
But the hospital was criticised by one witness for allowing an "oppositional relationship" to build up between psychiatric staff and Mr Haines.
Jonathan Watkins, an independent social worker, said: "I've not seen evidence of sustained therapeutic input. "A hospital is meant to be a place where people get better but the tenor of what we have heard so far is that Mr Haines has not got better."
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