The family of a mother killed by her psychotic son have issued a heartfelt statement following an inquest into her death – claiming she was failed by a trust which they say could have prevented the tragedy.
Maureen Watkins, of Ethnard Road, Peckham, described as a “kind, intelligent and empathetic woman”, was frail and partially disabled but for many years had provided support to her 55-year-old son, Eddie, in their home.
He mostly provided loving care to her and did household chores and shopping, but suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
That was well controlled until he switched from his usual medicines in spring 2018, because it was making him so drowsy. Then episodes of paranoia began.
He broke into a neighbour’s house and assaulted the occupants, as he believed he was on a mission to protect a child he said was being abused.
He was arrested, released under licence and admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act on August 18, 2018.
He improved after treatment but his illness was only partially controlled and there were fatal consequences.
His mother was initially reluctant to have him home and was reportedly fearful of him.
He shouted abuse at neighbours again on November 14, but there was no intervention and then, under a command hallucination to rape his mother, he stabbed her to death to avoid the act, on November 16 and sat naked in the road after the attack. Maureen was 75.
In their statement to the inquest, which concluded on Wednesday of last week, the family said: “Eddie was a loving and caring son and uncle.
“He was not quick to anger and the man who committed this abhorrent crime is unrecognisable to the family.
“Maureen and Eddie were let down by the South London and Maudsley Trust.
“We feel that there were multiple opportunities for the killing to be prevented.
“It is important to highlight that when well Eddie was not a violent individual.
“However, when experiencing psychosis he attacked his neighbours, one of which was a pregnant woman.
“It was irresponsible for him to be released back into the same environment.”
Delivering his verdict at Southwark Coroner’s Court, senior coroner Andrew Harris said: “The death was one of unlawful killing.
“The omission of the care coordinator to escalate to a psychiatrist details of the repetition of the perpetrator’s altercation with the neighbours after release from hospital on November 12 contributed to the death.”
Dr Michael Holland, medical director at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Maureen Watkins.
“Following Mrs Watkins’ death in 2018, a full internal investigation was conducted which identified areas where we need to make improvements to the care we provide.
“This included improving how we record incidents of risk across our services to allow for more comprehensive risk assessments, improving how our staff support families and carers involved in a patient’s care, and to highlight the importance of sharing care plans with families and carers where necessary.
“Since Mrs Watkins’ death four years ago, we have provided comprehensive training and support for our staff in carrying out robust risk assessments, care planning and raising safeguarding concerns.
“We are committed to improving the quality of care we provide and dedicated to learning from all incidents to reduce the risk occurring in the future.”
Mr Watkins is currently at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham.
Pictured top: Maureen with her other son, Danny, and daughter-in-law, Joanne