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Friday, July 2, 1999 Published at 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK


Mother loses compensation battle

Police searched for Rosie Palmer for three days

The mother of a girl who was killed by a former psychiatric patient has lost her appeal for compensation from the hospital who looked after him.

The BBC's Cathy Killick reports: "Doctors allowed him to live in the community"
On Friday the Court of Appeal rejected Beverley Palmer's compensation claim against Tees Health Authority who she accused of being responsible for her three-year-old daughter Rosie's murder.

She was suing on the basis that she had suffered mental distress as a result of the murder .

She told the court that she became a "psychological wreck" after Rosie was abducted, murdered and mutilated by Shaun Armstrong in 1994.

She said she was no longer able to work, had attempted suicide several times and had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act as a result.

[ image: Beverley Palmer says she has suffered severe trauma as a result of the murder]
Beverley Palmer says she has suffered severe trauma as a result of the murder
Mrs Palmer was seeking £200,000 compensation from Tees Health Authority which she claimed had failed to assess Armstrong's risk to the community.

The health authority said it no longer had a duty of care for Armstrong after he was released from hospital in 1993.

The High Court threw out a similar claim by Mrs Palmer last year.

The case centred on a legal argument that, because Mrs Palmer had not witnessed her daughter's murder, she was not close enough to the event to sue for the kind of damages she was demanding.

Lord Justice Stuart-Smith said he upheld the High Court ruling.

But he said it was "impossible not to have the deepest sympathy for Mrs Palmer for this truly appalling catastrophe".

Psychiatric problems

Armstrong, who had been sexually abused as a child and had a history of psychiatric problems, was admitted to Hartlepool General Hospital after attempting suicide five times between 1992 and 1993.

He also had a drink and drugs problem and had been accused of sexual abuse.

He told staff he had sexual feelings towards children and warned that he would kill a child on his release.

He was discharged from the hospital in 1993 and housed near the Palmer family in Hartlepool.

[ image: Shaun Armstrong has been jailed for life]
Shaun Armstrong has been jailed for life
Rosie was seized after she bought a lolly from an ice cream van outside her home in June 1994.

Police searched for her for three days before they found her mutilated body.

Armstrong, aged 37, has been jailed for life for Rosie's murder.

The Palmer case, which may go to the House of Lords, brought calls for tighter controls of community care patients.

Last year, the government announced plans to overhaul the system.

It has also ordered a review of mental health legislation with a view to increasing controls on community care patients deemed a risk to the public.

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