Tragic tale of a mentally disturbed woman now facing jail for misusing and over using the NHS

Judge Rebecca Brown’s wig on display at Milton Keynes Museum

A very poignant hearing for contempt by a mentally disturbed woman was held at Milton Keynes County Court last week presided over by Her Honour Judge Rebecca Brown.

Gillian Marriott was facing a committal hearing brought by Thames Valley Police for breaching a court order made two years ago which banned her from contacting the emergency services or attending Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury except in a genuine medical emergency. She is now facing two six month prison sentences and the possibility of a much longer prison sentence if she breaches the order for the next two years. She had already been remanded in custody before the hearing.

The judge took the decision in her absence and without any statement by her in her defence but she was represented by a lawyer.

I am highlighting this story because it neatly encapsulates in one episode what is going wrong with mental health treatment, what is happening to a pressurised NHS in the current crisis and the desperation of public authorities to deal with disturbed people by deciding that incarceration in a prison is the only solution. I don’t know the woman concerned but her situation is very well summed up by the judge in her ruling.

114 calls to 999 and 217 calls to the 111 services

Thames Valley Police who brought the case say she “has made 114, 999 calls and 217, 111 calls reporting various medical episodes. These
have all been triaged and checked causing demand on the service unnecessarily” and had attended ” Stoke Mandeville Hospital on occasions which were not for genuine medical need. It is alleged that the defendant attended Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the 23rd of March 2022 claiming an overdose but all her vitals we checked and found to be normal.”

Stoke Mandeville Hospital Pic credit: BBC

The court were told she turned up at Stoke Mandeville claiming to have taken an overdose on “7th of April 2022 , 11th of April 2022 , 13th of April 2022 , 15th of April 2022 , 21st of April 2022 , 26th of April 2022 , 22nd of May 2022 and 3rd of June 2022.”

She also turned up at the accident and emergency department claiming she had taken an overdose on the 15th , 19th , 21st 27th , 28th and 29th of June 2022 and the 18th of July 2022.

She admitted turning up but claimed she had genuinely thought she was ill and needed treatment

Her psychiatrist, Dr Srikanth Nimmagaddam said in a statement to the court that she had ” a history of being brought up in an overprotective environment in the context of the death of her brother. She also feels that she suffered from emotional abuse, as her parents regularly adversely compared her with her deceased brother. She gives a history of problems at school and being sent to a special school. She gives a history of being severely bullied and discriminated at school, as she went to a special school. She gives a history that at the age of 11, she was raped by a person, who later blackmailed to harm her father. She had to withdraw the case and that resulted in being accused by the police of wasting their time. All this seems to have been extremely traumatic for her given her young age. She did some farm jobs
until the age of 25, when she was married. One of her daughters was taken into care.”

He said “I believe there is clear evidence to suggest that she has a personality disorder – an emotionally unstable personality disorder of borderline type. The features of her personality disorder include impulsivity, including acting impulsively without considering the consequences; severe mood swings; chronic feelings of emptiness; uncertainty about her aims, objectives and goals in life; chronic low self-esteem; difficulties in sustaining relationships with a constant fear of rejection and abandonment; maladaptive coping mechanisms in the form of numerous acts of deliberate self-harm and of substance abuse.”

He ruled she was fit to plead and recommended a treatment programme that would not require a hospital admission but would require residential accommodation.

Some of the care plan unavailable because of resources

But Leanne Manning, Community Psychiatric Nurse, told the court: ” Some of the suggested aspects of the care plan are not available in terms of resources such as a residential placement. Ms. Manning thought supported accommodation would assist Ms. Marriott because it she may feel more supported and less isolated.
Ms. Manning informed the court that Ms. Marriott could attend a number of courses at the Whiteleaf centre such as mindfulness classes, managing mood classes and managing and understanding your diagnosis classes. Ms. Manning also told the court that instead of telephoning 999 or 111, Ms. Marriott should first try to consider whether she really needs medical assistance by going through a checklist that she has. She can then telephone the Whiteleaf centre to speak to Ms. Manning or another worker or telephone a “social prescriber” who is based at the GP.”

The police’s lawyer took a hard line against her. Mr Garnett said: “the breaches were a deliberate flouting of the order and the breaches were serious and egregious.”

He argued that there was a high degree of culpability. No real mitigation has been put before the court because there is no evidence from Ms. Marriott. The evidence is that Ms. Marriott has refused to engage with any treatment plan which would
assist her in her impulse control which would stop this conduct.”

Ms Marriott’s Lawyer, Mr Killen, said she would agree to go on the course but not move into residential accommodation.

He said” she values her independence too much and has lived in her current accommodation for a long time.”

The Judge said she had considerable sympathy and compassion for Ms Marriott but ruled that her actions amounted to a criminal standard that Ms. Marriott knew that she was making unnecessary calls and as such continued to add unnecessary burdens to the NHS whether it be A and E, ambulance drivers and other medical staff. But she said she had not done it out of malice more because of her vulnerability.

People may die because ambulances are being diverted to Ms Marriott – judge

There is immense pressure on the NHS and emergency services and people may die because an ambulance is not available because it
has been diverted to Ms. Marriott. I am satisfied that Ms. Marriott understands the terms of the injunction and knows that the number of callouts is unacceptable.”

Her judgement concluded: “The court therefore orders that Ms. Marriott serves a term of six months for the 999 and 111 calls and a further sentence of 6 months for the visits to Stoke Mandeville, each sentence to run concurrently and be suspended for two years until 22.8.2024. This court specifically warned Ms. Marriott that if she appears back before this court, has made no sustained attempt at engaging with work to address her behaviour and has carried on breaching the order, she is likely to receive a significant custodial sentence as well as serve the activated suspended sentence.”

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Settled with an order: Smith v Baker

Esther Baker

The long standing dispute between Sam Collingwood Smith and Esther Baker has been settled after the claimant, Sam Smith, requested to end the action.

It is not entirely over as Esther Baker is still pursuing a counter claim against Smith. The order is below.

The two page order

I will leave the reader to judge this. A previous updated blog described the long standing case here

A damning indictment on the dangerous failure of privatisation in the criminal justice system by a former Tory MP

Jerry-Hayes

Jerry Hayes, practising criminal barrister and former Tory MP for Harlow Pic Credit:Goldsmith Chambers

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

I am reblogging this from the site of Jerry Hayes, a former Tory MP and practising criminal barrister. He is highlighting the dangers of miscarriages of justice since the Forensic Science Service was privatised by David Cameron because private companies are cutting corners and not doing a proper job. The person here could have been imprisoned for seven years as a result of their negligence.

THE SCANDAL THAT UNDERMINES OUR ONCE GREAT SYSTEM OF JUSTICE

10 May 2017 at 07:09

I never blog on cases, but today I must break my rule. Yesterday I discovered a scandalous state of affairs which could have led to an innocent man going to jail for a substantial period of time. I will not name the defendant nor the court for obvious reasons. In forty years of practice at the bar this shook my faith in what was once the finest and fairest justice system in the world. Read this and weep. And mourn for British justice.

Yesterday I was sent to the Crown Court to offer no evidence in a firearms case. I had been instructed some weeks ago as Prosecution counsel. Let me give you a thumbnail sketch. Last year the police searched a van. In this van was a tool box and in this tool box were founds guns and ammunition. This comprised of an 8mm blank firing pistol converted to be a lethal weapon. An empty magazine belonging to that hand gun. A Glock self loading hand gun. The magazine from this handgun contained two live rounds. And three further live rounds were found in a knotted bag. It goes without saying that the possession of these items is a very serious offence and carries a minimum sentence of five years for the guns and a consecutive sentence for the ammunition. Anyone convicted potentially faces a sentence of imprisonment of seven years upwards.

The guns and ammunition were forensically examined. The laboratory gave the police what is called a Streamlined Forensic Report (SFR). It came to this conclusion, ‘a match exists between the defendant and the sample’. In other words the defendant’s DNA was found on one of the magazines.

This was served on the CPS and duly uploaded onto the digital case system, effectively serving this on the court and the defence. An SFR is precisely that, and both prosecution and defence are entitled to see the full report. But very often it is taken at face value. As there was no other evidence the CPS reviewing lawyer wanted further information. He asked for more information. Was there a mixed profile? How strong was the DNA? He received obfuscation from the lab. ‘The SFR provided indicated that a number of results were subject to progress.’ But the lawyer was dogged in his determination and finally received this bombshell. ‘The lab confirms due to confusion they have never compared mixed profiles against the defendant.’ They also stated that ‘progress means there are no additional findings’. Then came this chilling line. ‘The lab refused to elaborate any further……’

The reviewing lawyer reported the following,‘I am concerned that the language used in the SFR appears to assert positive and ongoing actions when they are clearly negative. I have requested the OIC to obtain an email from the forensic officer confirming the phone communication and what is implied in the SFR…..he confirmed that the report was misleading.’

The CPS, underfunded, overworked and creaking at the seams comes in for a lot of criticism. In this case the reviewing lawyer deserves a herogram.

Yesterday when I offered no evidence I explained to the judge in detail what had happened. I will never forget the look of horror on his face. There will be a thorough judicial investigation.

And yesterday SKY NEWS reported that a private forensic laboratory had ‘manipulated data.’ What the hell is happening? I will tell you. In 2010 the government announced that the national forensic service (the FSS) was to be closed down and forensic analysis would be privatised. Let me be clear that the FSS has had its fair share of cock ups. But the government announcement prompted horror from professionals. The National Audit Office warned, ‘this could spark a crisis within the justice system.’ They were right. Soon the court of appeal will be swamped. Will someone, somewhere listen? I won’t hold my breath.

Banned by the British courts: A VIP’s book on how he was sexually abused

In an era when child sexual abuse is literally coming out of the closet, an extraordinary decision has been taken by a British court to ban a book from an eminent performing artist on how he survived abuse as a child.

A judge has upheld an injunction bought by the man’s son to avoid publication on the grounds it would cause psychological damage to his son if the public knew about his father’s early life at school.

I am indebted to the excellent Inforrm blog for this story.You can read the full report by Dan Tench, a lawyer from Olswang, here.

The book was described in court as Inforrm reports as bringing together these terrible experiences “in an artistic and insightful way” and to be in “striking prose” and, it was said, contained “an important message of encouragement to those who have suffered similar abuse to speak about their past”.

But the man had a son by a marriage now dissolved.  That son lived abroad (in a country quaintly termed “Ruritania” in the judgment) with his mother.  The son suffered from a combination of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Asperger’s, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia.  Two psychologists said that the publication of the book revealing such details of his father would be likely to “exert a catastrophic effect on [his] self-esteem and to cause him enduring psychological harm”.

The injunction was granted by Lady Justice Arden using a bizarre piece of English law. As Dan Tench reports that:

“the publication of the book would be contrary to the tort of intentionally inflicting mental suffering as originally established in Wilkinson v Downton [1897] QB 57.  Amazingly, this ground was sufficient for the boy to secure his injunction.

Wilkinson v Downton is a legal curiosity well-known to legal students.  In it, a man as a practical joke had told a woman that her husband had had a serious accident.  She had responded badly to the information and had suffered nervous shock.  She was entitled to recover compensation for the psychological damage.  It appears to remain good law, albeit rather rarely used.”

To fit the bill Lady Justice Arden decided this should apply if the claim was true rather than false and that because of the internet the boy could read it. As she put it : “the relevant information was disseminated to the world at large, provided there was a risk that it would be received by the boy (he was said to be “computer savvy” and may read it via the Internet). ”

Finally the argument was used, among others, that the boy might visit London and be able to see a copy of the book.

Dan Tench concludes “The judgement is perhaps best seen as simply a rogue decision which hopefully will be quickly put out of its misery by the Supreme Court.  But if not, we have a precedent binding on the courts of first instance and the Court of Appeal which will cause all manner of difficulties.”

I would go much further. To my mind to ban a book using case law based on practical jokers to stop someone writing about child sexual abuse is a sick joke in itself. I hope this outrageous ban is lifted as soon as possible.

Update: Today the Telegraph reports that a group of eminent authors including William Boyd and sir Tom Stoppard have objected to the ban.