Son admits stabbing father to death

A SHAKE-up of social worker guidelines has taken place in Suffolk after a father was brutally stabbed to death by his own son, it emerged last night.Steven Harvey went into his father's bedroom at their house in Rubens Road, Ipswich, on January 4, and stabbed him more than 40 times, leaving him mortally injured.

A SHAKE-up of social worker guidelines has taken place in Suffolk after a father was brutally stabbed to death by his own son, it emerged last night.

Steven Harvey went into his father's bedroom at their house in Rubens Road, Ipswich, on January 4, and stabbed him more than 40 times, leaving him mortally injured.

At Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday, the 43-year-old admitted the manslaughter of his father Russell and was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act. He had denied murder.

It emerged during the case the family was referred to social services after the death of Harvey's mother in September 2003.

Last night, Suffolk County Council said it had now "re-issued and strengthened" guidelines to its social workers to allow them to "intervene more actively following a major change in a family's circumstances".

But it stressed it had acted correctly when dealing with the Harvey family last year.

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The court heard how Harvey had a lifelong history of learning and psychological difficulties, although from 1996 he had been free of medication.

Karim Khalil, QC, prosecuting, said Steven Harvey had lived in the family home for more than 40 years and had been extremely close to his mother, Marjorie, who died from cancer in September 2003.

Mr Khalil said: "She did most things for him and tended to his daily needs.

"After her death home life became exceptionally fraught and the defendant's father was unable to cope with the extreme burden placed upon him."

Mr Khalil said Mrs Harvey had ensured her son had enough alcohol to "keep him level" but after her death his father had tried to reduce it over a period of time leading to an argument on January 3.

Steven Harvey was told he would have to go to the doctor's or his family would call the department for social security.

"The following morning was to be the tragic end of his father's life," Mr Khalil said.

Russell Harvey went to bed and his son stayed up late to watch television and play games. But just after 2am his brother, Mark, who also had learning difficulties, heard some unusual sounds from his father's room.

He ran to the home of neighbours shouting, "my dad has been hit".

Steven Harvey was then seen coming out of his father's room, appearing to be calm.

Neighbours found Russell Harvey slumped against his bed and he was still breathing – but when he was approached he simply said, "let me be".

An ambulance crew arrived and Mr Harvey was taken to Ipswich Hospital but suffered a cardiac arrest and was declared dead an hour later.

Steven Harvey was found at the end of his garden by police and placed into custody.

A blood-stained knife was found at the house, its handle separated from the blade. A quantity of alcohol was also found.

A post mortem found Mr Russell had suffered "no fewer" than 40 stab wounds to his head, neck and chest, with two piercing his lungs by 3cms and 10cms.

"The death was plainly due to the nature of those stab wounds and it is plain who the perpetrator was", Mr Khalil said.

He added Harvey plainly had learning difficulties and that he made no comment during questioning by police.

On January 6 he was charged with murder, and he made no reply other than "I killed my poor dada."

The court was told there had been 12 previous matters of assault which led to hospital orders.

In one instance Harvey had punched and kicked two eight-year-old boys and on another occasion he broke into the home of an elderly woman before removing his clothes and trying to get into her bed.

He then struck her and ran away, the court was told.

Dr Hadrian Ball, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, said Harvey should be detained under section 37 of the Mental Health Act, without restriction of time. He said a bed was available to him in a specialist hospital in Norwich.

He added that more than 20 years ago Harvey had been recognised as suffering from a personality disorder.

Michael Hubbard, QC, mitigating for Harvey, said three doctors who had assessed Harvey took the view he was suffering from mental impairment. Two agreed it was a psychopathic disorder.

Sentencing Harvey to detainment without restriction under the mental health act, Mr Justice Hunt said: "The less said about the circumstances in which you came to cause the death of your father on that tragic night the better."

Harvey then became agitated and started walking around the dock before he was escorted away.

A formal verdict of not guilty to murder was recorded.

Last night Suffolk County Council issued a statement saying there had been a change in policy following the case.

"Suffolk County Council is confident, following a series of detailed reviews of our involvement, that procedures were correctly followed in response to the referral about this family in September 2003.

"We always look at serious incidents such as this one, to see if there are lessons to be learned, and as a result we have re-issued and strengthened guidelines to staff, in particular to give more backing to social workers to try to intervene more actively following a major change in a family's circumstances, such as the death of a family carer, even where family members are reluctant to allow us to get involved.

"Everyone involved extends their sincere sympathy to members of the family affected by this tragedy."

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