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Horrific double murders were preventable

PUBLISHED: 13:27 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 07 September 2010

Tan Parsons FRIENDS of a Highgate couple murdered by a schizophrenic have attacked mental health services in light of a damning report. Daniel Gonzalez, 27, was jailed in March 2006 for four murders including those of 75-year-old retired doctor Derek Robi

Tan Parsons

FRIENDS of a Highgate couple murdered by a schizophrenic have attacked mental health services in light of a damning report.

Daniel Gonzalez, 27, was jailed in March 2006 for four murders including those of 75-year-old retired doctor Derek Robinson and his 68-year-old aid worker wife Jean. The couple were randomly slain at their home in Makepeace Avenue on the Holly Lodge Estate.

This week an independent report by health experts revealed that while there were no clues Gonzalez had the capacity for extreme violence before the attacks, the care and treatment he received was ineffective in managing his condition.

Author Lucy Scott Moncrieff said: "We found that this was a case full of general and specific missed opportunities to address his mental health needs caused by a combination of human error, lack of resources, system failure and misfortune."

Pippa Rothenberg, secretary of the Holly Lodge estate committee, had a meeting with Mr Robinson the night before he was murdered. She said: "I'd have thought this report would bring an element of relief because finally the truth is out that this poor man Gonzalez was let down by the system.

"But it doesn't make it any easier for anybody. The Robinsons have been let down - everybody's been let down and the report's not going to do any good because it's not going to bring anyone back.

"I knew Derek well - he was a lovely man and they were a lovely family. They helped children and were always very involved."

Estate resident Lindsay Smith said: "People were shocked and generally distressed by the murders. Treatment of mental health in this country is diabolical. It seems to be hit or miss as to whether those released are fit to be among the general public for their own safety as well as others."

The report includes revealing comments from Gonzalez's youth worker John Humphries, who described him as being "like a wild animal in a cage".

A battling drug addict, Gonzalez had admitted to fantasies about horror star Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street films, and harboured dreams of killing people.

His three-day murder spree happened in September 2004 when he stabbed four people including the popular Highgate couple as well as 73-year-old Marie Harding in Worthing and 46-year-old Kevin Malloy on Tottenham High Road. He also attempted to knife two other men.

He was found dead at top security mental hospital Broadmoor in August 2007 after slashing his wrists with a broken CD.

Marjorie Wallace, the head of mental health charity Sane, said the report was a damning indictment of Gonzalez's treatment by mental health services: "It is nothing short of a scandal that a young man was allowed over eight years to be failed time and again and left at home so deluded and disturbed that he should take a knife and kill four strangers in such a brutal way and later take his own life.

"We would like to pay tribute to Derek and Jean Robinson, a couple who gave so much, and Mr Molloy, none of whom should have had to pay such a price for the failures of mental health services."

Gonzalez's mother Lesley Savage wrote to the Surrey mental health trust responsible for him more than 100 times with concerns about her son's health.

Fiona Edwards, the head of the trust, said: "We offer our profound apologies to the victims of Daniel Gonzalez, their families and to Mr Gonzalez's family for the missed opportunities revealed in today's report, related to our care and treatment of him.


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