22.06.17 Look out for later related articles
By Mark Watts
NHS investigators are under fire from the son of the grandmother murdered at random by a schizophrenic patient for making “scapegoats from low-hanging fruits”.
Nicola Edgington killed Sally Hodkin, 58, in south-east London in 2011 by slashing her neck with a butcher’s knife – almost decapitating her.
Edgington, who was aged 31 at the time of the murder, was jailed for life in 2013. The trial heard that she was detained in 2006 in a secure unit run by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust after stabbing her own mother to death the previous year. But she was conditionally discharged from there to live in the community after only three years.
NHS England ordered an investigation by an external panel, whose report on the Edgington case was leaked to me after Scotland Yard tried to block its publication because of its findings about police failures.
Sally Hodkin’s son, Len, told me: “We feel that the report does not address the bigger issue of whether it was appropriate to release Nicola Edgington originally given the misinformation fed to the Ministry of Justice by the trust.
“They missed numerous opportunities to recall her back to custody, and the inaccurate reporting to the MoJ regarding her original release.
“We feel the report has made scapegoats from low-hanging fruits, such as a triage nurse and police. We as a family do not criticise them. We blame the trust, which should not have released her in the first place.”
In a statement that he had wanted published with the report, he says: “We do not agree with its findings. We feel the triage nurse and the police have been used to deflect attention away from the clear failings of the trust.
“First, in relation to the original decision to release Nicola Edgington three years after killing her own mother, and second, missed opportunities and a failure to recall her because of her behaviour when in the community.”
“We are of the view that Edgington was released based on inaccurate reporting to the Ministry of Justice and a failure by those treating her to recall her when they had the opportunity.”
He added: “We think that the general public will be as outraged as we are that this woman was released at that time given the information that has come out of the report.”
He pointed to the findings in the report of “highly inaccurate reporting” by staff at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust to the mental health casework section (MHCS), which decides on behalf of the Ministry of Justice on whether to discharge “restricted patients”, those ordered to be detained in hospital for treatment.
Len Hodkin says in his statement: “Although her history of dissembling and minimising her symptoms was well known by her treating team, they continued to rely on Edgington’s own self reporting, without seeking external corroboration, or simply just ignored information which contradicted her version of events.
“This resulted in highly inaccurate reports being sent to the MHCS, which did not reflect her true state of health.
“The failure to inform the MHCS accurately arguably had catastrophic consequences.
“How can the MHCS be sure that the information it is receiving about other restricted patients is always accurate?”
Just before the murder in a memorial park in Bexleyheath, Edgington had also attacked Kerry Clark, 22, with a knife at a bus stop. Kerry managed to fight Edgington off, making her drop the knife.
Edgington grabbed another knife from a nearby butcher’s shop and ran to the memorial park where she murdered Sally Hodkin.
NHS England is refusing to say when it will publish the damning report that blames failures by police and hospital staff as “root causes” of the murder by Edgington.
But on Tuesday, in conjunction with Byline Investigations, I reproduced more than 6,000 words of key extracts from the leaked report.
UPDATE 10.37am: Multiple sources tell me that NHS England will publish its report on the investigation into the murder tomorrow, Friday 23rd, following the leak to me.
Leaked: official report of probe into ‘random’ murder by schizophrenic Nicola Edgington
Key extracts: how police and NHS failures led to murder of grandmother Sally Hodkin
Met tries to block official report that blames police over murder by schizophrenic patient
Nicola Edgington gave up pleading to be detained and went on to murder Sally Hodkin