Thursday, March 05, 2009

Schizophrenic stabbed four people after NHS ignored his pleas

A schizophrenic killer who murdered four people in three days was failed repeatedly by an ineffective NHS, an inquiry has found. The treatment of Daniel Gonzales was full of missed opportunities that could have prevented him stabbing three pensioners and another man to death. Despite nearly 60 appointments with doctors and psychiatrists and his own pleas to be admitted to a hospital, Gonzales was free to fulfil his ambition of becoming a serial killer resembling the film character Freddy Krueger, from the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

Gonzales's mother, Lesley Savage, had written to her MP begging for help, saying that she feared her son would only get the treatment he needed if he killed someone. An independent investigation found that the work of Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust had been hampered by human errors, a lack of funds, system failure and bad luck. Doctors had concluded that Gonzales was either making up claims of hallucinations and self-harm or was suffering from the effects of illegal drugs.

A report said that it was not possible to predict the murders, but that good practice was not followed. "Responsibility for this has to be shared by many of those who worked with, or were responsible for, Mr Gonzales." It said that doctors had not overlooked his capacity for serious violence and there were no "missed clues" that he would carry out the knife attacks.

Brenda Cutmore, Gonzales's grandmother, welcomed the report's findings and said that his care was catastrophic. Gonzales was sentenced to six life sentences for four murders and two attempted murders. The killings took place in London, Hampshire and Sussex in 2004. He was held in Broadmoor top-security hospital and was found dead in his cell in 2007 after slashing his wrists with broken CDs.

Fiona Edwards, chief executive of Surrey and Borders trust, said: "The trust accepts that more should have been done to engage Mr Gonzales while he was being cared for. We offer our profound apologies to the victims, their families and Mr Gonzales' family for the missed opportunities revealed in the report."


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