Breakdown of care led to hostel killing

Catalogue of failures caused death of volunteer

Government guidance on the use of voluntary organisations to care for the seriously mentally ill was under review last night after a damning report into the death at the hands of a drunken schizophrenic of an untrained volunteer left in sole charge of a hostel for the mentally ill.

John Rous, 49, stabbed Jonathan Newby, 22, through the heart after he had drunk the equivalent of seven pints of beer and taken cannabis.

Mr Newby was alone in charge of eight mentally ill residents at the Cyrenians' Oxford hostel in October 1993 when he died. An inquiry by Oxfordshire health authority yesterday damned the Cyrenians, Oxfordshire social services, the health authority itself and the police for a catalogue of failures.

Fifty minutes before the killing, Rous rang 999 threatening to take out Mr Newby's liver and warning they were about to have "a dead corpse" on their hands. The police operator hung up and failed to alert the control room. "This one step alone would probably have averted the death of Jonathan Newby," the inquiry, chaired by Nicola Davies QC, concluded.

Its most fierce criticism was reserved for the health and social service authorities and the Cyrenians, who are accused of a "reprehensible decision" in leaving Mr Newby in charge alone. Their management committee "failed in the discharge of their duties". The health authority is accused of a "dearth of investment" in the 1980s, social services were notable by their "virtual absence", their relations with the Cyrenians were ones of "mistrust and suspicion", and the support John Rous received at Jacqui Porter House was "paper thin". He is presently in Broadmoor after being convicted of manslaughter.

An inspection of the hostel by the local authority failed to note that the rota provided for only one volunteer to be on duty at night - a breach of government guidance of which the inspectors, unless they were incompetent, must have been aware, the inquiry said.

Rous had been distressed in the run-up to the killing and "Jonathan Newby should never have been left in charge of such a home, still less at a time of considerable distress and actual danger," Ms Davies said.

The voluntary agency had, however, to take on the work "because of the dearth of any interest on the part of the statutory services", she added.

Mr Newby's death follows that of Jonathan Zito, stabbed to death on Finsbury Park tube station by Christopher Clunis, and other deaths, including that of Katy Sullivan in 1992 in a hostel run by Mind.

Mr Newby's mother, Jane, said the Cyrenians should be disbanded and the work taken over by statutory agencies. The Government's policy of community care was fatally flawed, she said. "It is not right to leave it to charities to fill the gaps."

John Bowis, the junior health minister, described the death as tragic and said he would examine how existing guidance should be strengthened. But he rejected suggestions that voluntary groups should not run such difficult services. "From this tragedy we should not get the impression the voluntary sector is not able to provide a service as good as a statutory body. We should distinguish between the use of the volunteer and the use of the voluntary sector."

Oxford Cyrenians accepted criticism that their growth had not been matched by the development of management and training. "We did over-reach ourselves to met a need that was not being met," Elizabeth Leyland, chairwoman of the charity, warned. She said it would need much stronger commitment from the statutory organisations if the inquiry recommendations on training and staffing and were to be achieved.

Damning indictment, page 3

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum