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Mentally ill man jumps to death from St Mary’s Hospital window

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 February 2012

St Mary's Hospital in Paddington

St Mary's Hospital in Paddington

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A mentally ill patient threw himself out of a window at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington two months after he almost died from self-inflicted stab wounds, an inquest heard last week.

John Kofi-Tawiah, 49, smashed his way through the glass with an oxygen cylinder as frightened patients looked on before hurling himself from the eighth-floor window last July.

The Willesden resident was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition after knifing himself in the stomach on April 23, claiming “bad spirits” had told him to do so, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard.

He was kept in intensive care for more than three weeks before being transferred to a recovery ward where he was assessed as being at a high risk of self-harm and placed under 24-hour supervision.

The court heard his state of mind seemed to improve in the following weeks until he was not deemed at risk.

On the morning of his death Mr Kofi-Tawiah was behaving normally and gave a nurse a friendly greeting.

Giving evidence, Mr Kofi-Tawiah’s niece, Margaret Nyarko, said he had behaved strangely when she visited a few days before his death.

“He said someone had told him they were going to jail him because they’d found out he stabbed himself,” she said. “He said the man lying in the next bed was there because of him – he was watching him.”

Psychiatrist Asim Mohammed, who was assured by Mr Kofi-Tawiah that nothing was wrong, said: “I had a very good rapport with this man and I trusted what he told me. From the last interview I didn’t think there was any cause for concern.”

He added: “I can’t say why he did what he did – I think he must have had some form of psychotic anxiety.”

Assistant deputy coroner Dr William Dolman recorded an open verdict and said he had found “no evidence of any system failure” by the hospital.

He said: “That morning, he seemed to be his normal self until he deliberately went to the window, smashed it and propelled himself to the ground. We’ve had no evidence that on that day there’d been any deterioration of his mental state.

“He’d had concerns and anxieties, perhaps relating to his ability to remain in the country, but nothing to suggest he was suicidal.”

Dr Colman recorded Mr Kofi-Tawiah’s cause of death as multiple injuries due to his fall.


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