Widow blames care failure for killing: Musician died after attack by schizophrenic man. Rhys Williams reports

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The Independent Online
THE WIDOW of a musician murdered by a man with a long history of mental illness and violence yesterday blamed a failure in the Government's care-in-the-community programme for her husband's death.

Jonathan Zito, 27, was stabbed in the eye by Christopher Clunis during a motiveless attack at Finsbury Park Tube station last December. At the Old Bailey yesterday, Clunis, 30, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility and now faces indefinite internment at a secure hospital.

Afterwards, Jayne Zito, 29, told a press conference: 'I want the Government to understand how the changes they are making lead to destruction and fear and extreme loss, not only for me, my family and Jon's family, but for Christopher Clunis, his family and all people who are vulnerable, just like you and me.'

Earlier, John Bevan, for the prosecution, had told the court that Clunis's psychiatric problems dated back to 1986 when he was diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic. In 1988, he was convicted for causing criminal damage and the next year attempted to stab a police officer. Mr Bevan added that Clunis harboured 'a fascination' for knives.

In May last year, Clunis was held for allegedly stabbing a room-mate in the neck at a hostel in Southwark. He was transferred to the York Clinic at Guy's Hospital in August, where, according to Mr Fulford, 'he was showing little or no insight into his own behaviour'. The case against Clunis collapsed when the alleged victim refused to give evidence.

Clunis was discharged into the community last September for treatment as an out-patient of the Friern Barnet Mental Hospital, north London. Mr Bevan said: 'It is unfortunate that after being discharged from Guy's, there was no substantial psychiatric or social work follow-up. The failure of care-in-the-community led to yet another deterioration in his health on his release, as a result of which Jonathan Zito was the random victim.' Clunis failed to attend appointments with a locum psychiatrist and notes outlining his violent past did not arrive at Friern Barnet from Guy's until November.

Solicitors for both sides called on the agencies responsible for Clunis's care to explain why such an obvious threat to public safety was allowed to roam apparently unattended.

Mrs Zito said: 'I want there to be a 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.

'We heard this morning that this need not have happened. If someone had taken care of Mr Clunis, my husband Jon would have been here with me today. The man who stabbed Jon was so disturbed and vulnerable and distressed and frightened and scared, that he murdered my husband without even needing to see his face.'

Mrs Zito added: 'I worked for years with vulnerable people like Mr Clunis, who are very frightened, who need supervision and help. They're so scared, but they have nowhere to go and nobody to care for them. They cannot take responsibility for what they do.'