Health workers could have prevented killing

william barnard
william barnard

MENTAL health workers could have prevented the death of a Stapleford grandfather had they not missed chances to assess his killer’s mental state, a report has concluded.

Schizophrenic William Barnard, 32, stabbed his grandfather John McGrath just hours after the 81-year-old had made the last of many phone calls to his grandson’s carers to report his increasingly psychotic behaviour.

He was convicted of manslaughter for the attack in which he also badly injured his grandmother Mabel McGrath.

The independent investigation into Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust accepted the incident could not have been predicted but concluded that if Barnard, now in Rampton high security hospital, had been assessed and sectioned in the months leading up to the killing on July 24, 2009, it would not have happened.

Following the publication of the report by Consequence UK on Thursday, Nottinghamshire NHS has said it has now taken on all its recommendations.

Barnard had been looked after by mental health care workers since 2002 and was sectioned in 2006.

After his release from hospital a year later his condition started to deteriorate as he stopped taking medication and avoided family.

The report said he kept weapons, including an axe, by his bed, was neglecting his personal hygiene and his flat in Wesley Place was in a poor state.

Family had contacted the trust 24 times between his release and his grandfather’s death with concerns about Barnard’s mental state.

The trust decided to gather information and assess Barnard in late July but by then it was too late.

Broxtowe MP Anna Soubry, who organised a debate in Parliament about the case in July 2010, said the report failed to identify the supervisors of the two key workers who ‘through no fault of their own couldn’t give William’s case the time it needed’.

But she said the supervisors ‘failed to make sure’ the case was taken on by others.

“I am very concerned that the report hasn’t addressed all the issues and certainly has not provided all the answers,” she said.

“This is a wonderful family that’s still suffering from a terrible incident.”

“I believe that it was completely avoidable.

“But what we need to make sure now is that John did not die in vain.”

Medical director at NHS Midlands and East, Chris Welsh, said: “I know that nothing I can say today will make up for the loss of a loved one, the harm done and the heartache that those families experienced and continue to suffer.

“I hope that in some small way the publication of this report will help provide a better understanding for them and the wider community of the events that took place.”

The report made five recommendations to the trust, including better training for staff and the establishment of a trust-wide forum for managers so they can ‘share and reflect on practice’.