Blaze mum’s shock at mental health trust treatment of killer Peter Holboll

Peter Holboll

Peter Holboll - Credit: Archant

A young mother who leapt out of a window with her baby to escape a blaze sparked by schizophrenic killer Peter Holboll, says she cannot believe the fatal incident was “allowed to happen” in this country.

The Spanish-born mum, 33, lives with her husband and daughter on the second floor of the converted Kentish Town house where Holboll stabbed his mother Tamara to death before setting fire to her ground-floor flat in May.

In the two days before the attack, Holboll, 44, and his mother, 76, pleaded for him to be admitted to hospital in several phone calls to Camden’s mental health crisis team and in person at a clinic in the Peckwater Centre, Kentish Town.

Mental health campaigners have branded it a “scandal” that Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I), which runs both services, refused to admit him, despite their fears that he posed a danger to others.

The mother, who asked not to be named, this week told of her shock and disbelief after details of the tragic incident emerged when Holboll admitted manslaughter and arson at the Old Bailey two weeks ago.

She said: “I can’t believe it, that they actually physically went there and he said, ‘I want to stay here because I’m not in control,’ and they said, ‘No, there’s no beds’.

“He must have been very bad for Tamara to seek help.

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“She was a very strong woman, she was not like an old fragile woman.

“Common sense tells you not to allow that situation to progress. They did not live alone – I had to jump out of a window with a 13-month-old baby.”

Her family awoke to screams from the occupants of the first-floor flat directly below them at about 5am on May 7.

As flames and smoke engulfed the downstairs, she grabbed her baby daughter and escaped with her husband and the two others by jumping out of a window on to a small roof, before being rescued by firefighters.

“There was so much smoke and the baby was crying and crying,” she said.

“We’re just lucky there’s the option in these buildings to jump through a window and on to another roof.”

C&I has been criticised for axing 100 beds in the past three years. It had no spare beds when the Holbolls asked for help.

The mother was a close friend of Mrs Holboll, who was “like a grandma” to her baby, making the incident all the more traumatic.

She says she is not yet “psychologically back to normal”.

She added: “I can’t believe they let this happen in England, where everything is so cautious. Things are done properly here and safety seems quite a big thing, yet something like this was allowed to happen. I find it bizarre and very upsetting.”