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Wednesday, July 29, 1998 Published at 01:00 GMT 02:00 UK

Victims of care in the community

Jonathan Zito was killed by a paranoid schizophrenic

Mental health campaigners say there are around 50 killings a year by mentally ill people released into the community.

The most well known case is that of Jonathan Zito who was killed in December 1992 by a paranoid schizophrenic, Christopher Clunis.

[ image: Jayne Zito: campaigned for an end to care in the community]
Jayne Zito: campaigned for an end to care in the community
Mr Zito was stabbed to death at Finsbury Park underground station in London.

Since the death of her husband, Jayne Zito has set up The Zito Trust and has been at the forefront of a campaign against care in the community.

The Trust has called for an end to existing legislation that permits the supervised discharge of mental patients, saying that the system does not work.

[ image: Christopher Edwards was battered to death by Richard Linford]
Christopher Edwards was battered to death by Richard Linford
The Trust says that many mentally ill people released into the community often fail to take their medication and slip through the net, ignored by their carers.

Under the government's mental health care reforms Mrs Zito is to be part of a new committee that will draw up national standards for nursing care, patient support and accommodation.

Mental health in the headlines

  • In 1993 John Rous telephoned police from the charity hostel where he was being cared for, to warn them that he was going to kill a voluntary worker. The call was ignored and he later stabbed Jonathon Newby.

  • In 1995 Jason Mitchell was jailed for killing three people including his father. He was committed indefinitely in 1990 but had been released into the community.

  • In 1996 Martin Murcell was jailed for murdering his stepfather and almost killing his mother. The judge ordered an inquiry into the care he was receiving at the time.

  • In November 1994 remand prisoner Christopher Edwards, himself mentally ill, was battered to death by Richard Linford, a paranoid schizophrenic in Chelmsford Jail. Mr Edwards was so badly battered that he had to be identified by his dental records.

    A 1998 report into the killing concluded that neither man should have been in prison, nor should they have been put in the same cell. The report highlighted poor record keeping, inadequate communication and called for a major review of mental health services.

  • In January 1998 18 year-old Daniel Joseph, who had been diagnosed as psychotic, battered to death Carla Thompson in her south London home.

    A few days before the attack a nurse warned that Joseph's mental state was deteriorating and he had ceased to take his medication. He was so violent that the weekend after his arrest it took more than 20 police officers to escort him to Broadmoor.

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