HC Deb 11 July 1960 vol 626 cc972-3
27. Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that Ernest Smedley, of 41, Dryden Street, Nottingham, who was found guilty but insane on a charge of murder at Nottinghamshire Assizes on 29th June, 1960, was formerly a certified patient at Saxondale Mental Hospital; and why it was decided to decertify him in 1957.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Yes, Sir. Mr. Smedley became a voluntary patient in May, 1957, when his mental condition was such as to preclude the continued use of the compulsory powers under which he had been admitted to the hospital. He remained in hospital voluntarily until January, 1959.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Has my right hon. and learned Friend studied the history of insanity and violence of this man which was disclosed at his trial? Is he aware that his wife, who has frequently sought my advice during the past four years, went in terror of him and that he was certified in 1956 after a particularly violent attack on her which might well have caused her death but for the timely arrival of the police? As a result of this case, will my right hon. and learned Friend consider issuing instructions to the Board of Control, to regional hospital boards and to the appropriate hospital management committees to ensure as far as possible that a tragedy of this sort does not happen in future?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The importance of a patient's history in these matters is, I think, well known, and I do not think that any further instructions from me with regard to it are necessary. On the general aspect, my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that it was not possible to detain Mr. Smedley longer because his condition did not satisfy the requisite statutory provisions. If we look ahead to our new procedures, my hon. and gallant Friend will see from Section 25 of the Mental Health Act that the protection of other persons is one of the grounds for making a compulsory order in the case of people suffering from mental disorder.