Mentally ill killer had wrestling obsession

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The Independent Online

Countless errors were made by social workers and charities in the care of a deaf and mute mentally ill teenager who battered to death a good Samaritan, an independentinquiry report concludedyesterday.

Countless errors were made by social workers and charities in the care of a deaf and mute mentally ill teenager who battered to death a good Samaritan, an independentinquiry report concludedyesterday.

Jane Mischon, the barrister leading the inquiry, said the World Wrestling Federation was also to blame, because the teenager was obsessed with WWF fights.

Mental-health campaigners said the case highlighted the need for changes in how mentally ill people are assessed for the risk they pose to the public before they are released into the community, and that more medical information should be given to carers.

Daniel Joseph was 18 when he attacked Carla Thompson, 57, a Christian who gave him a home. In January 1998 he kicked and beat the mother of two in her home in south London, dragging her naked body outside and putting a noose around her neck. She died 21 hours later of 50 separate injuries. He also beat Mrs Thompson's neighbour, Agnes Erume, who suffered a heart attack and two broken bones in her face but who survived.

Joseph pleaded guilty to manslaughter and in July 1998 was sent to Broadmoor topsecurity hospital indefinitely.

Agencies criticised by Ms Mischon included the National Deaf Service, responsible for Joseph's care. Lack of communication between the bodies responsible for him meant that, despite a community nurse saying his condition needed "urgent intervention", nothing was done.

Mrs Thompson, who befriended the teenager, had had psychiatric problems herself. She encouraged Joseph to give up medication in favour of prayer but she was unaware of his mental-health needs or his background.

Jayne Zito, who founded the Zito Trust after her husband was killed by a psychiatric patient released into the community, said: "Not only are people like Carla Thompson not given this information, it is denied to professional carers, family members and even the police."

The inquiry, which has taken two years, was ordered by Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Health Authority.

Joseph, who was six foot seven inches tall and described as "extremely strong", was obsessed with WWF fights and harboured dreams of becoming a wrestler.

Ms Mischon said: "If one considers the particular brutality of the attack, one can see similarities. Some of the extreme actions of the attack did mirror what we know are the choreographed and the not-real actions of the wrestlers. To someone like Daniel, those actions seem very, very real."

The inquiry said Mrs Thompson's killing could not have been "reliably predicted" but made 32 recommendations for improving services for mentally ill deaf people.

Joseph's mother, Claudette, said: "Daniel is very, very sorry for what happened and I am sorry... Carla helped Daniel in all his needs but she stopped him taking his medication because she thought it would 'zombify' his body."

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