St Albans man with psychotic delusions ‘should have been sectioned’ before fatal fall

The entrance to the Maltings car park on New Kent Road

The entrance to the Maltings car park on New Kent Road - Credit: Archant

A man with psychotic delusions could have been saved from carrying out a fatal fall had he been sectioned, his mother told an inquest.

Matthew Burke, of Lemsford Road, suffered with ADHD and mixed personality disorder for years before he was spotted standing on the edge of St Albans’ Maltings car park by a passer-by on January 23.

The bystander turned away to get help and when he looked back, Matthew had jumped.

Paramedics rushed to his aid below, but the 27-year-old died at the scene.

Matthew had what doctors described as “strange thoughts”, which included believing his neighbours were building a bomb to detonate in his flat and that his family were controlling him through Satanic cult rituals.

He had been unemployed for the last eight years and his mother questioned whether the troubled man should have been sectioned.

She believes the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team was negligent in deciding not to detain him at a meeting in December last year, a month before the tragedy.

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She said: “I understand what you are saying that if he had been detained he still might have killed himself but I think that if he would have been treated those torturous thoughts might have gone.

“He was denied that opportunity and we were on suicide watch as soon as we heard that he hadn’t been detained.”

She said there were many missed opportunities to identify that Matthew was “very disturbed”, as he had a history of attempted suicide and had been expressing harmful thoughts for weeks.

Matthew had refused antipsychotic drugs because he believed they made him a prisoner in his own body.

His father added: “What I would hope is that some lessons are learnt from this and if there is another poor soul out there who exhibited half of the symptoms he did, they are assessed.

“Let me put it another way - if you have had a child which had similar symptoms, would you be happy for them to go through what he did and put any faith in the mental health professionals?”

Coroner Senior Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan adjourned the inquest to a later date in order to call more witnesses.

He said: “Looking at it as a medical lay person it seems that he has been displaying quite clearly symptoms of mental illness.”