Gravesend: Review Into Death Of 71 Year Old

2 October 2014, 12:59

A review into the killing of an elderly man by his paranoid schizophrenic son hours after health professionals ruled against detaining him under the Mental Health Act has highlighted failings.

The 48-year-old took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his 71-year-old  71, several times at the family home in Gravesend, Kent, on September 12, 2011.

He was charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order.

A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) said their relationship became strained after the father passed ownership of his house and business to his son in around 1989.

Its authors said the son had attacked his father many times over the years, including at least seven times with a blade, usually after refusing to take his medication.

A month before the killing, the son started to neglect taking his medication again, leading to concerns from his family and mental health professionals.

An assessment was booked to decide whether he should be admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act but it was decided there were "insufficient grounds'' to detain him.

The DHR review said: "The assessment took place on 12th September 2011 and it concluded that he was not detainable.

"Around 22:30 hours the same day he took a knife from the kitchen and fatally stabbed his father several times.''

The offender suffered "enduring serious mental ill health'', frequently refused medication, had attacked his father numerous times and the review noted the vulnerability of his elderly parents who he lived with.

But despite this, the report said: "The appreciation of past risk to inform present risk and manage it accordingly was not evident in this assessment.

"There were several breaches of the Mental Health Act Code of Practice in the preparation and conduct of the assessment.''

The panel said it was not for them to decide whether the son should have been detained on the day he killed his father.

But they said the assessment team him did not appear to consider the escalation of risk of harm he posed and were "too optimistic'' that he would comply.

The report said Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Directorate (KMPT) "could have done more'' to cut the risk

"There was more that could have been done in terms of risk identification, putting strategies into place to manage that risk, as well as some of their responses to specific events,'' it said.

At an inquest which ended this week, North West Kent Coroner Roger Hatch recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing.

The DHR made five recommendations in the report, including that MHA assessment processes could be improved.

It also recommends "the creation of a multi-agency information sharing and assessment process to identify and manage people with mental health issues that present a potential safety risk to the public''.

A review is being carried out by KMPT and Kent County Council on the role of the mental health professional.

Mike Hill, chairman of the Kent Community Safety Partnership, said: "We want to take this opportunity to offer our condolences to the family and express our deep sorrow and regret that a man should die in such circumstances.

"The commissioning of this independent review, which examines in detail the circumstances of this case, is a mark of our determination to learn and help prevent future homicides from occurring.

"The review is published today for all to consider the events leading up to the victim's violent death at the hands of his son. The Kent Community Safety Partnership fully accepts both the findings and recommendations of the review.''