Catalogue of incidents that spurred reform

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The Independent Online
THE MEASURES announced yesterday were prompted by a series of high-profile incidents in which former psychiatric patients, who had been discharged from hospital under the care in the community programme, harmed themselves or others.

The National Schizophrenia Fellowship, which represents sufferers and carers, said most patients were not dangerous but since the bed closure programme escalated two years ago, there had been at least 100 suicides and 40 homicides by seriously mentally ill people - mainly suffering from schizophrenia.

Yesterday, the mother of a student pyschologist who was stabbed to death by a schizophrenia sufferer she was caring for said the Government's proposals did not go far enough.

Sandra Sullivan claimed the tighter controls were meaningless unless they included measures to punish health workers who neglected patients. 'All these recommendations are supposed to achieve safety, but the only answer is to make staff accountable for their actions.'

Katie Sullivan, 23, was stabbed 14 times last October by Erhi Inweh, a former psychiatric patient, at a rehabilitation hostel in Kingston, south-west London. Inweh, 22, who had a history of violence which was never revealed to the hostel, had stopped taking her medication days beforehand. It was found that Inweh's doctor and social worker failed to give the hostel her record, which included several murder attempts. She was found not guilty of murder on grounds of insanity and sent to Broadmoor special hospital.

In another attack, Christopher Gore, a mathematics student, killed his parents with an axe after he developed delusions that they had starved him of love.

At his trial at Bristol Crown Court, the prosecution said medical experts agreed Gore had suffered from a mental disorder since childhood, suffered from a schizoid personality and was highly dangerous when he attacked his parents at their home in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, in September 1991. He was not receiving hospital care. Gore was ordered to be detained in Broadmoor after admitting manslaughter.

Last month, an inquest jury in Croydon returned a verdict that Colin Bint, 18, killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed. He died instantly when he stepped in front of a train, following several failed suicide attempts. He had been treated in hospital several times after he became mentally ill.

Paul Gordon, 26, a schizophrenic sentenced to three years' probation with a condition of psychiatric treatment after mugging and killing an 83-year-old man, was not treated unduly leniently, the solicitor general, Sir Derek Spencer, said yesterday, after studying the case to see if it should be referred to the Appeal Court for review of sentence.

Bill Hoarsley, of New Cross, south-east London, died when Gordon pushed him over and he cracked his head before suffering a heart attack. Gordon, who admitted manslaughter and robbery, had been released from hospital on the care in the community programme and had refused to take his medication.

(Photographs omitted)

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