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‘I just want the truth’ – Mum’s fight for public inquiry into son’s death intensifies

PUBLISHED: 10:19 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:20 10 January 2020

Melanie Leahy with her son Matthew Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Melanie Leahy with her son Matthew Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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The mother of a 20-year-old who died in an Essex mental health facility has successfully fought for an investigation report into his case to be made public.

Barbara Keepley MP and Melanie Leahy took the campiagn to London before Christmas Picture: MELANIE LEAHYBarbara Keepley MP and Melanie Leahy took the campiagn to London before Christmas Picture: MELANIE LEAHY

Due to be published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman today, the full report into the case of Matthew Leahy is the latest development in his mother Melanie's eight-year fight for answers.

Matthew, 20, was admitted to the Linden Centre in Chelmsford, then run by the former North Essex Partnership NHS Trust (NEP) in November 2012. He called his mother claiming he had been drugged and raped in his room, and was found hanged just a week after being sectioned under the mental health act.

Mrs Leahy, who just before Christmas took her fight to Downing Street, has many questions on her mind - but one of the main ones is why it has taken so long to find out what happened to her son.

"I just want the truth," she said. "I don't want another family having to go through this horrendous journey.

Matthew Leahy died in November 2012 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYMatthew Leahy died in November 2012 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

"I want changes made and lessons learned to prevent this happening again and again and again."

MORE: Mum asks public to write to MPs demanding inquiry into son's death

In June last year, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) identified a series of significant failings made in the care of Matthew and another vulnerable patient, identified only as Mr R, who died at the former NEP.

After its publication his parents, Melanie and Michael, said his death had "left a void that nothing can fill".

"Not a day passes when we do not miss him and despair at the thought of how his life was cut short, so needlessly," they said.

Matthew Leahy, who was found dead at the Linden Centre in Essex back in 2012 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYMatthew Leahy, who was found dead at the Linden Centre in Essex back in 2012 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

"We want the public to know what happened to our son so this never happens again."

A petition calling on the Government to launch a public inquiry into Matthew's death has collected 105,000 signatures and is set to be considered for debate in the near future.

MORE: 'We need action now' - mum takes campaign over tragic 20-year-old son's death to Downing Street

Essex Police launched a probe into 25 deaths at the trust, dating back to 2000, but this was dropped in 2018.

However, senior officers pointed to "clear and basic failings", though they found it did not meet the threshold for a corporate manslaughter probe.

Amanda Cook, Lisa Morris and Melanie Leahy, who have all been campaigning for a public inquiry into their relatives' deaths while in the care of the former North Essex Partnership trust  Picture: WILL LODGEAmanda Cook, Lisa Morris and Melanie Leahy, who have all been campaigning for a public inquiry into their relatives' deaths while in the care of the former North Essex Partnership trust Picture: WILL LODGE

Trust boss 'deeply sorry'

Andy Brogan, deputy chief executive officer and executive chief operating Officer, said: "We are deeply sorry for the distress they have endured due to the failings in the care provided by the former NEP.

"We have fully acknowledged the failings identified in the Ombudsman's report. The care provided by the former NEP fell well below acceptable standards, let alone the high quality of care the NHS strives always to provide.

"It is also evident from the Ombudsman's report that the former trust's investigation into Mr Leahy's death was inadequate.

He added: "We are very sorry indeed for the additional pain and distress this caused Mr Leahy's family.

"EPUT took over responsibility for the services provided by NEP in 2017.

"We have co-operated fully with the Ombudsman's investigations, and carried out its recommendations in full to address the service failings and maladministration described in the report."

A Health and Safety Executive investigation is ongoing, with calls for a large-scale public inquiry continuing to mount.


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