Mother blames community care for son's death

Jane Newby says many people let Jonathan down, writes Jojo Moyes
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The mother of Jonathan Newby yesterday held up the shredded T- shirt her son was wearing on the night he was killed. "He may not have grown up to be a prime minister or a film star, but he would have grown up to be a decent human being," she said. "He never got that chance."

Jane Newby, a teacher, yesterday blamed failings in the community care programme for the death of her son at the hands of schizophrenic John Rous.

But Mrs Newby welcomed the report into the circumstances surrounding the death of her son. It rightly heaped criticism on the Oxford Cyrenians and Oxford social services, she said.

She claimed she discovered by accident that the Cyrenians had a history of violence in their hostels. She was also told social services had carried out a proper inspection of Jacqui Porter House but later found this was untrue.

Mrs Newby called for the Cyrenians to be disbanded, but saved special criticism for Thames Valley Police. They had contacted her two days after Jonathan had died and admitted a 999 call had been made by Rous. She later discovered the civil controller who took Rous's call had been dismissed only to be reinstated. Mrs Newby questioned how the public could now place its confidence in the emergency services.

But she said it was the Government who had to take responsibility for her son's death. "A lot of people let down our son - but I suppose at the end of the day it's the Government's policy of community care. I think it is very flawed," she said.

She called for hospital closure programmes to be halted until proper resources were placed into caring for mentally-ill people in the community.

Mrs Newby concluded by lifting up Jonathan's shirt, which had lain in front of her as she spoke. Her 17-year-old daughter Cathy, sitting next to her, had touched it repeatedly. "That didn't happen," she said. "What happened was this. I've washed out the bloodstains."

The Zito Trust, a mental health charity, said the report showed Jonathan Newby's death was preventable. Jayne Zito, its director, whose husband Jonathan was killed by the schizophrenic Christopher Clunis, said yesterday: "Jonathan Newby's death was the result of a deplorable catalogue of failures which demonstrate appalling mismanagement, ineptitude and a staggering lack of professionalism on the part of those agencies responsible for the establishment and management of Jacqui Porter House."