Coroner criticises mental health trust following death of popular Camden hairdresser

PUBLISHED: 12:25 06 August 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 06 August 2015

Michael Dickson with his girlfriend Mia Joseph

Michael Dickson with his girlfriend Mia Joseph


A mental health trust should review its procedures following the sudden death of a popular Camden hairdresser, a coroner said.

Michael Dickson, a popular figure on the Camden Goth scene, was found dead at his flat in Bayham Street on February 19, after his girlfriend Mia Joseph became concerned and called the police.

Ms Joseph said her boyfriend had been failed by the mental health services.

Coroner Dr Richard Brittain ruled the cause of death was “heroin toxicity with a background of recent alcohol use”.

Mr Dickson, 45, had long-standing mental health problems, including a history of drug and alcohol addiction, and had been receiving community-based treatment from the Camden Specialist Alcohol Treatment Services (CSATS).

He was referred to the Camden and Islington Crisis Team in January after he reported feeling suicidal, but when he failed to attend, the appointment was automatically cancelled without any follow-up.

The inquest at St Pancras Coroners’ Court on Friday found there were no suspicious circumstances and no evidence that Mr Dickson had intended to take his own life.

Dr Brittain said it was unclear why the Crisis Management Team did not follow up after Mr Dickson failed to attend an appointment on January 19.

Dr Brittain said: “Although there is no direct link between this decision and Michael’s death, the service manager should consider whether changes should be made to see whether they should have to follow-up the failure to attend an appointment, as this could help save other lives in the future.”

Ms Joseph said: “Michael really wanted to overcome his problems with addiction, but I feel he was passed around from pillar to post between different services.

“I tried to get him sectioned at one stage as I could see he was on the road to ruin. If he had been sectioned, he would still be alive.’’

Toxicology tests found traces of morphine in his system, together with codeine – indicating the presence of street heroin.

Antidepressant medication was found at prescription level and alcohol was present in his blood at a level of 36mg per 100ml, below the drink-drive limit.

Mr Dickson’s girlfriend, Mia Joseph, said she believed that Michael had been collectively failed by mental health services.

Mr Dickson was a hairdresser in a Camden Town salon for 15 years before being made redundant last year. Ms Joseph said: “At his best, he was the loveliest guy you could ever meet, but there was something vulnerable and child-like about him.

“Somebody like Michael needs routine, and when he lost his job he went downhill because he didn’t know what to do with himself. I’d known him for 15 years, and we’d been a couple for about a year.

“He will be truly missed by the community in Camden, especially by his “purple family” of fellow Prince fans. Michael often found life difficult, and I hope and believe he has found his wings now.”

A statement from the trust said Mr Dickson had not shown any signs of being at risk of suicide on February 10, and attempts had been made to contact him when he missed his February 19 appointment.

It said: “We are currently reviewing the crisis team’s ‘did not attend’ procedure and we will be reporting back to the coroner within the court’s timeframe.”

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