Why was a sex offender placed on a mixed gender ward at mental health unit?

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where the Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Den

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where the Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Questions have been raised over why a male sex offender was put on a mixed gender ward at a Norfolk mental health unit.

The decision was made in the months before Kylie Payne, 23, was found hanging in her bedroom at Meadowlands on February 7, 2012, after she accused the sex offender of raping her.

Miss Payne claimed in December 2011 that she had been raped by a fellow patient, but two months later was informed that police would not press charges. She was found dead the following day, an inquest in Norwich heard.

At Wednesday's hearing, Dr Bohdan Solomka, who was Miss Payne's clinician, said he was aware the accused patient had a history of sexual offences.

He said: 'I didn't make the decision, but due to difficult circumstances the only place that seemed available for him was Meadowlands.

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'I had concerns over Kylie and the man associating with each other before the alleged incident, but if it came out in public that the man was a sex offender this would have led to him being attacked inside the facility. It was a very delicate situation to manage.

'Ideally it shouldn't have happened and it highlighted problems with mixed gender wards.'

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The inquest heard that Miss Payne had on November 10 2011 written a note about her wish to leave the facility.

She wrote: 'I am not safe here. He is coming to get me. Why won't he leave me alone? He is scary, I have to leave.'

The inquest heard that Miss Payne had a 'difficult' November where she was placed on constant observation due to numerous incidents of self harm.

Dr Solomka said Miss Payne moved to Meadowlands from the Norvic Clinic in June 2011, but in December 2011 discussions were held about sending her back.

He added that the Norvic Clinic was a medium secure clinic where patients faced more rules and restrictions. Meadowlands was described as a 'more homely atmosphere' which geared towards preparing patients for discharge.

Dr Solomka said they decided to keep Miss Payne at Meadowlands as she had shown signs of settling down and may have reacted negatively to being placed under more observation, increasing chances of self harm.

The hearing continues today.

If you are affected by this story, contact the Samaritans on 08457 909090.

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