Disturbed killer 'too dangerous' for hospital

Public safety: Judge refuses to send schizophrenic to Broadmoor
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The Independent Online

A paranoid schizophrenic who killed two people in a six-day reign of terror after he was released from hospital by mistake was jailed yesterday. The judge said that the alternative - a secure hospital - would not guarantee public safety.

Following recent controversy over mentally ill patients who have killed while in the community, Judge Peter Beaumont rejected psychiatrists' pleas that Wayne Hutchinson, 21, should undergo supervised treatment at Broadmoor secure hospital in Berkshire.

Instead, he insisted that the double killer must go to prison to ensure "absolutely water- tight protection" for the public.

Hutchinson was cleared of murder but convicted earlier this month of two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was also found guilty of wounding three people with intent and attempted murder in what the judge called a "crescendo of violence" in Brixton, south London, 13 months ago. He believed he was a tiger - "the number one in the jungle".

Judge Beaumont said he posed a "grave danger". If he was sent to a mental hospital, he might be released within a very short time if his condition improved. But under a jail sentence, he could still receive treatment for his schizophrenia as the Home Secretary had the power to transfer him to hospital. The judge told Hutchinson, a small-time drug-dealer: "For six days after Christmas 1994, you brought terror to parts of Brixton."

At the earlier hearing, Dr Robin Lawrence, a consultant psychiatrist at the South Western Hospital in Brixton, told how Hutchinson was allowed to leave the hospital by "mistake" in November 1994.

He had been previously treated after hearing voices but failed to return from home leave. When he was brought back by police, he was in such a psychotic state that doctors begged them not to undo the handcuffs until the medication had time to work.

However, a locum doctor allowed him to leave the next day, and he had disappeared by the time the hospital realised the error, an Old Bailey court was told. His rampage of "mindless and horrifying violence" began on Boxing Day, when he tried to kill an old school friend by shooting through his bedroom window. The friend was not there.

Then he shot dead Anthony Kelman, 30, a doorman, outside a Brixton nightclub, and slashed a 17-year-old boy with a knife. On New Year's Eve, he stabbed three people in separate incidents ending with the death of Margaret Hatton, 41, in a late-night shop. Hutchinson was arrested hours later.

Psychiatrists who argued he should be sent to Broadmoor said they feared prison warders might not recognise symptoms of his illness. But Judge Beaumont said prison offered better protection to the public.

After yesterday's sentencing, families of the victims demanded to know how the doctor's blunder let Hutchinson out. Mrs Hatton's daughter, Louise, said: "We want answers. It's an absolute disgrace he was free, somebody has got to pay."

Mr Kelman's sister, Pat, said: "Someone has got to take responsibility."

A spokeswoman for the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Commission, the purchasing body for the South Western Hospital which has promised an independent investigation, said they were finalising details of the inquiry panel. They hoped to start work soon.