Mental health deaths at Linden Centre, Chelmsford, to be investigated

Matthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre in Essex back in 2012. Picture: MELANIE LE

Matthew Leahy, who was found hanging at the Linden Centre in Essex back in 2012. Picture: MELANIE LEAHY - Credit: Archant

Police are investigating “up to 20 deaths” at an NHS-run Essex mental health unit since 2000 after fresh allegations emerged.

(from left) Amanda Cook, Lisa Morris and Melanie Leahy, who have all been campaigning for a public i

(from left) 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 North Essex Partnership. Picture: WILL LODGE - Credit: Archant

Essex Police says it is conducting initial investigations into deaths which occurred at the Linden Centre, in Chelmsford, following further allegations surrounding the death of Matthew Leahy came to light.

An inquest into the death of Mr Leahy, 20, concluded he had been subjected to a “series of failings”.

Mr Leahy was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and taken to the centre in November 2012, where, after only seven days, he was found hanging in his room.

Mr Leahy’s mother Melanie Leahy has fought for an independent enquiry into her son’s death and improvements to safety measures at the centre, run by the North Essex Partnership Trust (NEP).


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Mrs Leahy said the trust had been advised to take action with ligature points on the ward – features which can aid suicide – prior to her son’s death, but nothing was done.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in 2015 reported that one patient had attempted to strangle themselves with a ligature, and that action should be taken to remove the identified risks.

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Last week, an inquest jury found that another patient, Richard Wade, died in May 2015 at the centre after staff failed to remove a dressing gown cord that he used to take his own life.

Mrs Leahy said: “I have worked tirelessly to collect evidence going back to 2001, which proves the trust knew about the ligature points on the ward.

“As proved by the CQC inspection in 2015, the wards were not up to standard required to ensure patient safety.”

Mrs Leahy added Essex Police were still investigating her son’s death as well as up to another 20 patients who all died by the same means.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Essex Police is conducting initial enquiries into a number of deaths which have occurred at the Linden Centre since 2000. This work follows further allegations surrounding the death of Matthew Leahy at the facility in Chelmsford on November 15, 2012.

“We would not put specific links to specific deaths, the research phase will look at the circumstances of a number and then identify those that may have a link due to the circumstances of how the individuals died.”

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