Inquiry into killing by schizophrenic

ED FOSS An independent inquiry is to be launched into the killing of a Norfolk man by a paranoid schizophrenic, it emerged last night. John 'Ghosty' West was stabbed to death by his long-term partner's son-in-law, Richard King, in August 2004.

ED FOSS

An independent inquiry is to be launched into the killing of a Norfolk man by a paranoid schizophrenic, it emerged last night.

John 'Ghosty' West was stabbed to death by his long-term partner's son-in-law, Richard King, in August 2004.

King had been allowed to walk out of Hellesdon Hospital a few days before the attack at Sheringham, despite a history of drug abuse and violence.

After pleading guilty to manslaughter at Ipswich Crown Court, King, who stabbed his victim 11 times, was sectioned indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

Four official investigations have subsequently been held into the killing, but Mr West's family have consistently said that important questions remain unanswered.

Most Read

An Independent Police Complaints Commission report blamed "tragic human error" for the death after a police operator sent officers to the wrong town.

An inquiry on behalf of the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership found if mental-health workers had followed correct protocol in July 2004, King would have been in a community care scheme and Mr West would still be alive.

And a coroner's inquest reached a verdict of unlawful killing.

The news of a new independent inquiry was broken yesterday during a meeting attended by members of Mr West's family and by senior officials from the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

After the meeting, held at St Andrew's House at Thorpe, near Norwich, the victim's brother Patrick West said the decision was "going down the right road".

The remit of the investigation and membership of the inquiry panel needed to be agreed, but the prospect of fresh scrutiny into the case was "good news", he added.

"The discussions were frank and we have all the confidence in the world that based on the meeting today the officials we met with are on the right track."

Patrick, who has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of his late brother, was joined yesterday by sisters Margaret Main, Hazel Bilham and Daphne Harpin, the latter on a short visit to Norfolk from her home in America.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said he was pleased the West family had won their campaign.

"There were an awful lot of serious concerns which emerged from the case and another inquiry is absolutely the right thing to do.

"I applaud the West family for sticking with it for so long and making their voices heard, which can be very difficult over such a long period."

A spokeswoman for the SHA confirmed last night that a meeting had been held to discuss arrangements for an independent inquiry but said no more detail could be given.

The second annual darts contest in memory of John West will be held at the Crown Inn in Sheringham on August 7, the anniversary of his death.

Last year's event was held at the Two Lifeboats and raised £120 for the crew fund of Sheringham lifeboat.