Hampstead IT consultant ‘hunted like suicide bomber’ and wrongly sectioned on secure psychiatric ward
- Credit: Polly Hancock
A man is threatening legal action after he was wrongfully sectioned on a high security psychiatric ward following a major police hunt.
Hampstead resident Aaron Dover has spoken of his incarceration at Highgate Mental Health Centre in a bid to raise public awareness of the complexities of mental health issues.
The 39-year-old IT consultant was sectioned against his will last September and forced to take anti-psychotic drugs daily while he was in hospital. But within two weeks a tribunal found his detention was not justified and he walked free.
Mr Dover, who lives in Keats Grove, Hampstead, relived the drama of the day he was captured and told the Ham&High: “I was brought into hospital by a major police manhunt of over 10 police cars, police with dogs trawling Hampstead Heath, and a police helicopter, while I was out quietly having a coffee on Flask Walk.
“The police escalated to a ‘high risk missing person’ manhunt. I was hunted down like a nuclear suicide bomber rather than someone out for Sunday breakfast.”
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The former University College School student had been under intense pressure due to an employment dispute and had at times suffered from depression.
On September 15, his wife called the NHS 111 out-of-hours number concerned for his wellbeing.
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Authorities feared he may be suicidal and within the hour he was tracked down by police in Grove Place, Hampstead.
The IT consultant was taken to Highgate Mental Health Centre where doctors suspected he had a delusional disorder and eight days later he was sectioned.
Mr Dover, an intermittent user of cannabis for 24 years including highly potent skunk, admits he was under intense stress but believes his sectioning was based on hearsay and not enough was done to verify his account of events.
On October 2, following a five hour hearing, a tribunal found that it was “not satisfied that he was suffering from a mental disorder”.
He was freed immediately with no further treatment required.
Mr Dover is now consulting lawyers about a case for unlawful detention, medical negligence and personal injury. Solicitor José Grayson, of DH Law, who represented Mr Dover at the tribunal, said: “The hospital had simply failed to properly investigate what Aaron was saying.
“It is now some months since Aaron’s discharge. If they were right about the fact that he had a serious psychotic illness then he would be back in hospital.”
Jonny Simmons, founder of website Pure Thought, said: “It reveals just how fragile anyone’s life is and how any one of us could find ourselves, if a few circumstances turn against us, at the wrong end of mental health services in the UK.”
A spokesman for Highgate Mental Health Centre said: “The tribunal make a decision on whether further detention is warranted based on the assessment to date and their own interviews.
“The decision that no further detention is needed does not make the original detention for assessment wrong or illegal as without the assessment the tribunal would not have had the evidence on which to base their evaluation.”