Murder of Mary Griffiths ‘could not have been foreseen’ - report

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AN NHS independent investigation into the care and treatment of mental health patient John McFarlane, convicted murderer of Mary Griffiths, has admitted that there are areas for improvement within the service but said that the murder ‘could not have been foreseen’.

NHS East of England published the report today and held a press conference at the Ramada Hotel, in Bury St Edmunds, this morning.

The independent investigation was launched following the murder of 38-year-old mother-of-three Mary Griffiths who was killed by mental health patient, John McFarlane, in May 2009 at her Bury St Edmunds home.

The report concluded that ‘whilst there are areas identified for improvement, the tragic murder of Mary Griffiths was not predictable. The events leading up to her murder were fast moving and the murder could not have been foreseen.’

Speaking at the press conference, Dr Hadrian Ball, medical director of Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, said: “There were difficulties and challenges within the service in recent years. These difficulties and cases were identified and were put right.Real improvements are being made.”

The report said that the decision not to detain McFarlane under the Mental Health Act was ‘reasonable’ and that there was no indication that he was a significant risk to others. The report does highlight concerns about a lack of communication between mental health professionals who dealt with McFarlane and that his treatment was ‘complicated by the lack of diagnosis’.

A statement from Mary’s family said today that they firmly believed that McFarlane should have been sectioned and that this may have prevented Mary’s death.

For full story, see Friday’s Bury Free Press.