Suffolk coroner raises concerns over death of Wingfield man

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean

A coroner has demanded action over a lack of communication between a mental health trust and police following the suicide of a north Suffolk man on the farm he lived and worked on.

Jamie Barlow, 29, was found hanged at Corner Green Farm at Wingfield, near Diss, on August 28, 2012.

Yesterday an inquest heard Mr Barlow had a history of mental health problems and had called his GP at Eye Health Centre, Dr Henry Lewis, seven days before his body was found to say he had drank half a bottle of bleach and then made a bizarre series of claims.

Dr Lewis contacted the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to ask for the involvement of its early intervention psychosis team and set up an appointment with Mr Barlow.

However the inquest in Lowestoft heard that a mental health assessment visit by the trust to Mr Barlow's caravan at the farm was not organised as there were fears he had a gun.

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The trust then asked police to carry out a welfare check on Mr Barlow instead - but that was not carried out.

Insp Richard Hill, who was in the Suffolk police control room at time, said he was not told about the fears Mr Barlow had a gun.

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But Insp Hill also said checks showed Mr Barlow did not appear to be at immediate risk and officers needed further information to see if the welfare visit was necessary.

He said: 'I needed more justification why the police needed to go.'

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said it appeared the trust was using the police as a 'safety net' and a health assessment visit by the trust was more appropriate than a police welfare check.

Dr Dean said: 'The communication did not work the way it should have worked. At the end of the day Jamie seems to slipped through the net.'

The inquest heard although the trust had ordered a review into the circumstances surrounding the death there had been no special meeting between the trust and Suffolk police to see what lessons could be learned.

But Margaret Little, services manager at the trust, said the issue would be raised at a strategy interagency meeting due to be held yesterday afternoon.

Dr Dean said he would write to both organisations to say they needed better interagency planning.

He added: 'It is important that both agencies look at the circumstances.'

Dr Dean recorded a verdict in Mr Barlow's death that said he took his own life.

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