By Mark Watts
One Monday morning in October 2011, Sally Hodkin walked through a memorial park in London. It was around 8.30am. She was making her way to work as an accounts manager at a law firm.
But the 58-year-old grandmother never arrived.
Nicola Edgington, who had a history of mental illness and was living in the community, killed her at random in the green in Bexleyheath, south-east London by slashing her neck with a butcher’s knife.
Edgington almost decapitated her.
Then aged 31, Edgington had also just attacked a 22-year-old woman, Kerry Clark, with a knife at a bus stop.
Kerry fought off her attacker, who dropped the knife.
But Edgington grabbed another knife from a butcher’s shop and used it to kill Sally.
Edgington was jailed for life in 2013 for murder and attempted murder.
The trial heard how, hours before the attacks, Edgington pleaded with police and staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich that she urgently needed to be detained because of her deteriorating mental condition.
In a series of 999 calls to the police while at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgington appealed for help in being admitted to a mental unit. “The last time I was like this, I killed someone,” she told the call handler.
In a call a few minutes later, police records show that she was “asking for help before she hurts someone.”
Her psychiatrist had told her, she said, “when she feels very scared and paranoid, she can be very dangerous.”
She asked the operator: “Do you want me to hurt somebody here?” Again, she asked for the police to take her into custody.
She had killed someone five years previously, she said. Breaking down crying, she added: “You need to send somebody now.”
Edgington had stabbed her own mother to death in 2005, and was convicted of manslaughter the following year.
She was detained for three years in a psychiatric unit for killing her mother, but then conditionally discharged to live in the community.
Edgington made a further 999 call after a few more minutes. “Caller stating she is a dangerous schizophrenic and if police do not arrive on scene asap she is going to harm somebody,” according to police records.
The operator told her that she was in a place of safety.
Edgington shouted back: “No, I am not in a place of safety. I am in an exposed area.”
“The more scared I get, the more dangerous I become.”
She made one final call to police. She said that she was a very dangerous schizophrenic and would hurt someone. She said: “The last time I felt like this, I killed my mum.”
The operator asked her where she was, and Edgington replied that she felt like she was at the gates of heaven.
Edgington gave up on her attempts to be detained on the basis of her mental condition. She caught a bus from the hospital to Bexleyheath.
She went to a supermarket, where she bought a knife. Within minutes, she went on to carry out the first of two attacks.
NHS England ordered an investigation by an external panel. As I have revealed today, the Metropolitan Police Service has been blocking publication of the report, delaying it for years.
Mark Watts (@MarkWatts_1), co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre, is the former Editor-in-Chief of Exaro. Another version of this article appeared in The Sun.