Family forced to leave home by a schizophrenic's violent outbursts

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THE last time Luke Isles was 'sectioned' and compulsorily detained in a mental hospital for six months, the local social services had been forced to act because he had threatened to chop off his godfather's head with an axe, writes Rosie Waterhouse.

Luke, now aged 27 and 'stable', had already driven his family out of their home in Covent Garden, central London, because of his violence and menacing behaviour after he developed schizophrenia when he was 18.

His violent outbursts began after months of strange behaviour, when he became paranoid and convinced people were plotting against him and hiding things from him. One day his mother's partner, Peter, stubbed his toe and began limping. Luke passed a note to him saying: 'Are you trying to wind me up by pretending to be a cripple?' He then landed a punch which knocked Peter, 6ft 4in and 18-stone, to the floor. Earlier that day Luke had attacked a lodger.

The next day a psychiatrist agreed to section Luke for three days. During his assessment the section was extended to 28 days. But by the time doctors went to tell Luke, he had disappeared. He had headed home, and when his mother refused to let him in, he broke through the front door. He had almost smashed his way into the flat when the police arrived.

Until last year, no agency took responsibility for his long-term care and his condition was constantly allowed to deteriorate. But over the past few months he has remained stable, and taken his medication. His GP, social workers, consultant psychiatrist and re-settlement officer now co- ordinate his care programme.

According to his mother, Elizabeth, who campaigns for Sane, a charity which runs a helpline for people with mental health problems and their families, for a mother it was tragic to see how her son had 'become another creature'. But she added: 'It's torture for the sufferer as well'.

Sane's helpline number is 071 724 8000.

(Photograph omitted)