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Police could have prevented murder, so could have DHB

“It is time the psychiatric profession took some ownership of these ever increasing tragedies’ and were made accountable when they fail” Graeme Moyle


Police could have prevented murder, so could have DHB.

Police could have prevented murder, independent report finds.

Police could have prevented the death of Diane White by mental health patient Christine Morris, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found in a decision released today.

Christine Morris was a voluntary inpatient receiving respite care in the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton, up until she went absent without leave two hours before killing Diane White in January 2010.

Morris was sentenced to life imprisoned last April with a 10 year non-parole period. She is serving her sentence as special patient in Auckland’s Mason Clinic, a regional Forensic Mental Health Hospital for offenders with serious mental health issues.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman on mental health issues, Graeme Moyle, is dismayed that the Police feel they need to take responsibility for Ms Whites murder.

“Certainly there were shortcomings by the Police in their response to this incident” Mr Moyle said, “however, had clinicians at the Henry Bennett Centre carried out effective risk assessments on this woman and kept her secure, this murder would have been prevented long before the Police became involved”.

“Christine Morris had communicated her intentions to kill Diane White on several previous occasions; she had also threatened to kill a case worker involved in removing a child from her care. These are all indications of potential risk and should have been dealt with appropriately. They were not, allowing Ms Morris the opportunity to bludgeon Diane White to death”.

“The Police have been made the scapegoats for poor clinical judgment and although they have taken it on the chin, should never have been placed in that position in the first place” Mr Moyle said.

“That Morris was a voluntary patient at all is remarkable, considering her severe mental illness complicated in this case by profound deafness. She was not unknown to mental health services, having received treatment for schizophrenia for the best part of 30 years”.

Following Morris’ sentence the Waikato District Health Board issued a statement saying that no one could reasonably have predicted this tragedy.

“That is nonsense” said Mr Moyle, “this death was totally predictable and preventable and it is a disgrace that they pretend it to be otherwise. The most effective means of predicting violence is previous violence or threats of violence”.

“The DHB commissioned an investigation into the circumstances leading up to Diane Whites murder but will not make that report available to the public. The Police have put their hand up for their part in this tragedy, it’s time the Waikato DHB did the same’.

“It is time the psychiatric profession took some ownership of these ever increasing tragedies’ and were made accountable when they fail” Mr Moyle said.


ENDS

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