Woman dies after beating by mental patient

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The Independent Online
Mental health chiefs last night announced an urgent inquiry after a woman was dragged naked into a street on Thursday and beaten to death.

Carla Thompson, who was her in mid-forties, was seen by neighbours being pulled from her ground-floor flat while tied by the neck to another woman. Both were later found unconscious with severe head injuries.

An 18-year-old man, who is understood to be a care in the community patient, was arrested at the scene in Tulse Hill, south London, by police using CS spray. He was yesterday committed to a secure psychiatric unit under the Mental Health Act.

Ms Thompson, who was rushed by air ambulance to the Royal London Hospital, died yesterday morning. A post-mortem examination confirmed that she had died from multiple injuries due to beating. The second woman, who has not been named, was seriously ill last night in King's College Hospital in south London.

The South Thames NHS Executive confirmed tonight it has ordered an independent probe into mental health services run by four separate National Health Service trusts following the attack.

Kate Wilcox, spokeswoman for the executive, said: "An inquiry has been ordered in the light of this incident with directions to produce a thorough report and recommendations as soon as possible. Although the precise circumstances of what happened remain unclear, it is something which is being taken very seriously. Part of the work of the inquiry will be to look at the psychiatric care offered in this part of London."

The care services cited in the investigation are Bethlem and Maudsley NHS Trust, Lambeth Healthcare NHS Trust, Pathfinder Mental Health Services, which works in the Tooting area, and Lambeth Social Services.

An inquiry chairman from a neighbouring trust is expected to be appointed in the next few days.

The 18-year-old suspect, who was found outside Ms Thompson's address in Manor Way, was arrested after a group of officers used CS spray to subdue him. No one else is being sought in connection with the attack.

A Scotland Yard spokes-man said: "When officers got to the scene, the man was being particularly violent and CS spray had to be used to restrain him. He was later examined by a police surgeon and found to be fit for detention."

The inquiry comes less than a week after Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, announced an overhaul of the care-in-the-community policy.