Computer message records death of a victim

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The Independent Online
A VIVID account of a community care failure was related by a Metropolitan Police sergeant who gave evidence to the inquiry:

'I was on night duty on a Sunday. Just after I started, a man was brought into the station. He had been trying to commit suicide by putting his head under the rear wheels of a bus. He had waited for the bus at a bus stop, seen the passengers get on and then rushed out and lay down with his head in front of the rear nearside wheels. Luckily the bus driver saw him, stopped, and called the police.

'The man was extremely affable. I wasn't busy so I chatted to him. It turned out he was trying to commit suicide because in 1959 he could have saved Jesus but he didn't. He must kill himself by severing his head. He assured me he would not try to commit suicide again.

'At about 11.30 the doctor arrived. Like me he was impressed by the plausibility of the man. If you hadn't known it was impossible, you would have believed him. Later it got busy and the man had to be put in with a number of drunks because another prisoner had to be on his own. I felt we were treating an ill person like a criminal, but there was nothing to be done about it.

'On the Monday, I was the custody officer and started duty at 2pm. The man was still at the station from the night before, because the council did not provide a mental health assessment facility after midnight. The mental health team arrived at about 3pm, the soonest time possible, and he was committed to a local mental hospital.

'A week later I was poring over some fatal accident messages on the computer. I found the man had been discharged from hospital, walked down the road opposite the hospital, put his head under the wheels of an articulated lorry and was killed.'