The Clunis Case: A dignified widow who bears no hatred

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The Independent Online
ON June 28, the day Christopher Clunis was ordered to be detained in a secure hospital for the killing of her husband, Jayne Zito gave a press conference.

Just one hour after she heard for the first time in court, the full gruesome details of the stabbing, she showed no hatred, only sympathy, for the man who made her a widow after she had been married for just three months.

Clunis had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and, she said, she did not hold him responsible. But somebody was. And she was determined to find out who.

In a performance described by one reporter present as 'hellish moving' Mrs Zito told how she and Jonathan met at an art school outside Sienna, fell instantly in love and married in Italy as soon as the paper work was complete.

But the reason she had decided to hold a press conference was not to reminisce. It was to spell out what the government must do: 'I want there to be a full public inquiry into why Jonathan Zito has died, why his family are sitting at home in Italy without their son, and why I am here without Jon. Somebody has to tell me why Christopher Clunis was on the platform that day and murdered my husband.'

A week later Mrs Zito met Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, and John Bowis, a health minister, to repeat her appeal for a public inquiry.

Afterwards Mr Bowis released a press statement saying: 'Jayne Zito is a courageous and dignified person and I was so pleased she came to talk to me about the tragic death of her husband.'

Rejecting her request for a public inquiry, he said the inquiry they had decided to have, conducted in private, by the two regional health authorities who dealt with Clunis in the last six months before the killing, would suffice. Mrs Zito was not satisfied. 'They were patronising and full of platitudes. They tried to turn this into my personal tragedy instead of tackling the questions that need to be answered about Care in the Community. They used our meeting as a PR opportunity. Shame on them,' she said.

Mrs Zito worked as an assistant manager in a residential centre for mentally ill patients such as Clunis, and was already aware of weaknesses in the system before her husband's death.'

But she was shocked by the apparent abdication of responsibility by many of the authorities involved with Clunis, over the years, exposed by The Independent's research.

'Why wouldn't any of the authorities who had looked after him before take responsibility for him? Why was he always sent somewhere else? Is it because no-one wanted to take responsibility for him or was it because he was homeless and kept turning up in different areas. If so where is the communication between different authorities to be able to know who this man is?'

Aftr reading the chronology Mrs Zito asked: 'Why isn't he being assessed? He is crying out for help. Whether he responds passively or violently he still cannot get the help he needs.'

Mrs Zito has no plans for the future. She will not be returning to social work. Would you? she asked. But she might continue to campaign for a public inquiry. 'I've nothing else to do, and nothing else to loose.'

(Photograph omitted)