Don Lock killing: Head of trust apologises to families for care failure

Colm Donaghy, chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: James Pike
Colm Donaghy, chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: James Pike

The head of the trust that treated killer Matthew Daley has apologised to his family and the relatives of Don Lock – but said that what happened was a ‘rare event’.

This comes in the wake of Daley being cleared of murdering the pensioner – who he stabbed 39 times after a car crash – but found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Matthew Daley has been found guilty of manslaughter but cleared of murdering pensioner Don Lock. Picture: Sussex Police

Matthew Daley has been found guilty of manslaughter but cleared of murdering pensioner Don Lock. Picture: Sussex Police

Colm Donaghy is chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides care and treatment for people living in south east England.

According to Mr Donaghy, Daley has been receiving care from the trust for eight years from teams both in Worthing and Brighton.

Daley initially came into contact with the trust because he was hearing voices in his head, and was treated for psychosis before he was referred to a specialist in Asperger syndrome who rediagnosed him as having the condition.

He was then primarily treated for Asperger’s with symptoms of psychosis.

The care that we gave to Matthew Daley wasn’t what we would’ve wanted it to be and we will learn lessons from this

Colm Donaghy, chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Mr Donaghy said : “One of the first things I want to do is apologise again to the Lock and the Daley families, because they both have been devastated by these tragic events. The care that we gave to Matthew Daley wasn’t what we would’ve wanted it to be and we will learn lessons from this. If the Lock family wanted to they can talk to us about what it is we’re doing and we are going to do and be engaged in that process.”

Mr Donaghy extended the same invitation to the Daley family.

They were involved in an internal investigation conducted by the trust in the wake of Mr Lock’s death, which exposed three main failings in Daley’s care.

According to Mr Donaghy, these were ensuring staff had a ‘proper full assessment and diagnosis’ for Daley, not considering detention under the mental health act more seriously and not acting on or properly recording the concerns of Daley’s family.

Mr Donaghy explained why this happened: “Matthew is an adult, and he is the one receiving care. While his family would give views of how he should be treated, primarily his clinicians would be talking and listening to him, given he is over the age of consent and legal capacity.

“Therefore they would balance what they heard with the need to treat Matthew appropriately to what he would tell them. In this case they didn’t listen enough to the family.”

After the incident occurred, all 32,656 patients in the trust’s care were re-examined to make sure they were properly diagnosed.

Of that review, eight patients in Worthing had the same diagnosis as Daley.

As well as this patient audit, staff were re-trained in diagnosis and care for patients in need of ongoing treatment.

The outcome of the internal investigation will be circulated in a trust-wide newsletter.

“The point I want to get across is this is a rare event. It doesn’t happen often and the vast majority of the care we provide is safe and good care”, Mr Donaghy said.

“People shouldn’t be concerned that there are lots of people in our services that aren’t being properly cared for and are therefore a danger to the public. That is not the case.”

Before stabbing Mr Lock, Daley was involved in a series of violent incidents which were discussed in court.

Mr Donaghy said that some of these were reported to police by staff, but also by Matthew himself.

“The team were particularly concerned about Matthew’s domestic violence against his girlfriend and we did have a joint meeting with police to discuss that. The other violent incidents would have been discussed with Matthew as part of his ongoing care with his team.”

Mr Donaghy said that no police action was taken at that time, and that his team believed Asperger’s to be responsible for Daley’s anti-social behaviour.

With regard to Daley not taking his medication and missing appointments, Mr Donaghy said this was always followed up by staff.

He added: “If someone is in the community and they’re not detained you are reliant on them complying with the medication regime, and if they don’t you have to assess the risk that that poses. If you believe they’re either a danger to themselves or someone else then you have to seriously consider a Mental Health Act assessment which would deprive them of their liberty, which is a really major decision.

“Had Matthew been detained under the Mental Health Act, it would’ve been for a limited period of time, so it isn’t the case that when someone comes into our service for detention that they are there indefinitely.”

He also said that in cases where patients were detained and their medication consumption was monitored, this couldn’t be guaranteed when they were released.