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Suffolk: Care staff not responsible after man in suicide crash attempt took his own life while awaiting sentence, inquest told

14:46 21 May 2014

Man took life while awaiting sentence following suicide crash attempt

Man took life while awaiting sentence following suicide crash attempt

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A suicidal man who tried to kill himself in Suffolk by crashing his car into a vehicle containing five people was not neglected by staff caring for him, a coroner has ruled.

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Paranoid schizophrenic David Smith took his own life in a care facility last October while awaiting sentence at Ipswich Crown Court for seriously injuring the occupants of the other vehicle.

The 29-year-old, who was said to have had a morbid fascination with killing himself, had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking. Mr Smith rammed the VW Golf he was driving into a Toyota Yaris, in an attempt to take his own life at the A11 Elveden crossroads, near Thetford, on January 5 last year.

Although Mr Smith sustained relatively minor injuries, the occupants of the Toyota required emergency treatment.

A girl, aged 13, suffered a dislocated hip. Another girl, aged 15, sustained a fractured arm, a bleed on the brain and a fractured facial bone, while a 19-year-old woman had a fractured leg.

A 49-year-old man had fractures to the base of his spine, legs and chest, while a 48-year-old woman sustained fractures and a dislocated elbow.

All were from Gillingham in Kent

Mr Smith died in the Caludon Centre, Walsgrave, Coventry after hanging himself on October 11.

He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was a teenager but his treatment never got the illness under control.

At the time he was being checked every hour – despite concerns that as his court appearance got closer he was getting increasingly anxious.

Yesterday an inquest into his death at Coventry Magistrates’ Court concluded, with coroner John Buckley ruling Mr Smith had taken his own life.

Mr Buckley added that Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust “did all they could have been reasonably been expected to do” and had not failed in its duty of care towards Mr Smith.

The inquest had heard that Mr Smith, of Central Avenue, Stoke, had made repeated attempts to harm himself but his most recent attempt at hanging had been six years ago.

Since then he had made attempts to end his life in a variety of ways.

Speaking after the inquest Mr Smith’s mother Jane Smith – who had criticised her son’s treatment in evidence – said he had been in the wrong place.

Mrs Smith said: “He should never have been in an acute care ward for that length of time.”

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