NHS computer glitch caused mental health patient to go on trial

Norwich Magistrates' Court. Picture: Denise Bradley.

Norwich Magistrates' Court. Picture: Denise Bradley. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

An NHS computer glitch landed a seriously ill mental health patient in court.

Aaron Evans, 36, of Blickling Road, Norwich, went on trial at Norwich Magistrates' Court on January 30 for failing to appear at a probation appointment on November 13 and not providing evidence to justify his absence within five working days of the missed appointment.

He was ordered to access the probation service after being given a 12-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months, as well as a community order, at the same magistrates' court in August last year.

He pleaded not guilty after claiming a medical note from his GP stating he was unfit to work and attend the appointment due to his mental health problems could not be processed until November 22 due to a computer issue.

Mitigating, Ian Fisher said the note was handed into the probation service on November 26.

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He added: "It couldn't be produced any sooner."

Mr Fisher told the court that Evans lived with anxiety and depression and had also been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder two years ago after being involved in a crash which killed a cyclist. No criminal convictions were brought against anyone.

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Giving evidence, Evans said: "The mental health problems were always there but got worse. Mentally I couldn't leave the house. I felt like everything was falling apart and that I didn't want to live anymore."

The trial heard Evans received a mental health assessment at magistrates' court in August and was immediately referred to Hellesdon Hospital.

He was initially seen every day at home by NHS staff and still receives medication and home visits.

Prosecuting for the probation service, Chris Brown said Evans had not attended several probation appointments after his August suspended sentence and the GP note did not cover his inability to attend a probation appointment.

The court heard probation had access to an earlier GP note relating to his mental health which was handed into the court.

Mr Fisher added: "His troubles are far from behind him. He does seem to be in some degree of turmoil. His marital strife is far from resolved an his contact with his children is not what he would like it to be."

District judge Julie Cooper revoked the suspended sentence breach but re-sentenced Evans for nine offences including two police officer assaults, possessing crack cocaine and criminal damage between February and August last year.

The 36-year-old pleaded guilty to those offences and was given a 16-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a curfew from 8pm-6am and ordered to pay compensation to the police.

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