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Thursday, February 12, 1998 Published at 13:18 GMT

Special Report

Has care in the community failed?
image: [ Jayne Zito has led a campaign to change mental health policy ]
Jayne Zito has led a campaign to change mental health policy

The basic idea behind care in the community, which aims to move mental health patients out of old-fashioned mental institutions, was broadly welcomed by health professionals when it was launched in 1990.

But the policy has become discredited after a series of killings by mental patients whom critics argue should never have been allowed free in society.

Schizophrenic Christopher Clunis stabbed musician Jonathan Zito, 27, at a London Underground station in 1992. Mr Zito's wife Jayne set up the Zito Trust to campaign on the issue of the release of mentally-ill patients.

[ image: Jonathan Zito's killer, Christopher Clunis]
Jonathan Zito's killer, Christopher Clunis
The Trust says that more than 100 people have been killed by care in the community patients in the last five years. It claims that approximately two people every month are murdered because of the failure to provide adequate care services.

List of death

  • Jason Mitchell, 25, beheaded his father Robert and strangled pensioners Arthur and Shirley Williams in Bramford in Suffolk in 1994. After being arrested Mitchell was alleged to have sung It's a Wonderful Life in his police cell.

  • John Rous, 47, stabbed unqualified care worker Jonathan Newby to death at a residential care home in Oxford in 1995. Less than an hour earlier he had called the police to warn them he would "tear out his victim's liver".

  • In 1996 Darren Carr, 26, was jailed for the manslaughter of Susan Hearmon and her daughters Kylie, six, and Anne, four, after he set fire to their house in Abingdon in Oxfordshire. Carr had been detained in a psychiatric hospital before the killing but doctors decided he could be discharged.

    [ image: Stephen Laudat - believed his victim was East End gangster Ronnie Kray]
    Stephen Laudat - believed his victim was East End gangster Ronnie Kray

  • Stephen Laudat, 26, stabbed grandfather Bryan Bennett more than 80 times at a day centre in Stratford in east London in 1994 because he thought his victim was the gang leader Ronnie Kray. The killing came eight months after Laudat had been released from a hospital back into the community. An inquiry found he had not been taking medication to control his actions.

  • Anthony Smith, a 24-year-old paranoid schizophrenic, stabbed his mother Gwendoline and 11-year-old half brother with a Bowie knife at their home in Sandiacre in Derbyshire in 1995. The double killing happened a month after Smith had discharged himself from hospital.

    The Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, says there will not be a return to the old-style asylums, but mental health campaigners believe there needs to be a massive capital investment into mental health provision to protect the public and the mentally ill.


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