Schizophrenic's release ahead of Teesside attack 'justified'

An attack on a woman by a schizophrenic at a Teesside store could not have been predicted, a report has found.

Paul Dempsey badly injured Rosie Bonner with a kitchen knife at Binns, in Middlesbrough, in 2008, a week after he was released from a mental health unit.

Dempsey, now 39, from Darlington, later admitted attempted murder.

The report, commissioned by NHS North East, found the attack "was totally unpredictable" and his release prior to it was justified.

Following the stabbing, it emerged Dempsey had been sent to a secure mental health unit in 1995 after two previous attacks on women and drugs were used to manage his schizophrenia.

The report found Dempsey had fantasies of a violent and sexual nature.

'Not foreseeable'

However, it went on to state: "His consultant psychiatrists had, in the panel's view, no reason to suspect these fantasies or to inquire further as there was nothing in his behaviour to have raised such concerns.

"What actually happened therefore was totally unpredictable."

Teresa Fenech, deputy chief nurse at NHS North East, said: "Firstly, we would like to express our sincere sympathies to the innocent victim of this tragic case and the suffering caused to her and her family.

"While the report concludes that what happened on 30 January 2008 was not foreseeable, and could not have been predicted by any of the healthcare staff caring for [him] at the time, that does not take away the sad facts of this case.

"Several areas of good practice were actually highlighted by the investigating panel but there were also areas for improvement which were immediately acted upon by local mental health services."

Improvements included better systems for record storage and retrieval, for sharing risk assessment information between all agencies, and for consultant psychiatrists to endeavour to obtain copies of historical risk information.

Following the attack in Middlesbrough, Dempsey was ordered to be detained in a secure mental health unit indefinitely.

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