Schizophrenic knifed man after leaving hospital

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The Independent Online
A SCHIZOPHRENIC who stabbed a stranger nine months after being discharged from hospital was sent to Broadmoor yesterday. The case prompted further calls for a government rethink on its care in the community initiative for the mentally ill.

Mark Ricketts, 27, was convicted of attempting to murder the man at a London Tube station in a case almost identical to that of Jonathan Zito in December 1992. Mr Zito, also 27, died after an unprovoked stabbing by Christopher Clunis, a paranoid schizophrenic just released into the community.

A spokesman for the Zito Trust, set up by Jayne Zito, his wife, to campaign for better care for the mentally ill, said yesterday that there had been 17 similar killings in the past 18 months. 'The Government has got to accept that care in the community does not work for the severely mentally ill,' he said.

Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, will today launch proposals for community care charters.

Ricketts attacked Mark Kemp, a 24-year-old doorman, with a large kitchen knife at Tooting Broadway station in June last year, Linda Strudwick, for the prosecution, told the Old Bailey yesterday.

Mr Kemp had been in an amusement arcade meeting friends when Ricketts approached him, she said. Ricketts, 6ft 2ins and well built, put his arm round the smaller man and led him to the ticket area. As Mr Kemp struggled to break free, Ricketts pulled a knife from his boot and plunged it into his stomach.

Mr Kemp told the court he thought he was going to be slashed across the throat. 'The shock came when I was stabbed in the stomach and I knew I was bleeding very badly. I started to lose consciousness and I thought 'if I do that I'm dead'.' He developed peritonitis, a life-threatening abdominal infection, but has recovered.

After Ricketts's conviction the court was told he had a history of unprovoked assaults. Judge Neil Denison, the Common Serjeant of London, told Ricketts he would be remanded to Broadmoor, where he has been held since the attack, to await sentence. That would probably be an order for him to be detained under the Mental Health Act 'so you can continue treatment which I think is of benefit to you already'.