‘Vulnerable’ patient killed at Highgate Mental Health Centre ‘badly let down’
- Credit: PA
A man was beaten, strangled and then set alight by a fellow patient on a “rogue ward” at Highgate Mental Health Centre, a court has heard.
Carl Thorpe, 46, was “badly let down by staff” who failed to prevent the killing on Coral Ward, the Old Bailey was told.
His killer, Jordan Bramble, 22, had a history of violence and was supposed to have been kept under constant watch by staff at the secure mental health unit in Dartmouth Park Hill.
The defendant, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was unfit to stand trial for Mr Thorpe’s murder. A jury deliberated for 40 minutes to find that he did the act.
Judge John Hillen QC thanked Mr Thorpe’s family for their “restraint and dignity” throughout the case.
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He said Bramble, who is at Broadmoor Hospital, faced being detained under the Mental Health Act for an unlimited amount of time.
Jurors heard Mr Thorpe suffered from schizophrenia and had been admitted to the mental health centre on February 1 last year, just over a day before his death.
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Bramble had spent three years in mental health units from 2014 to August 2018 and during that time had broken the nose of a staff member and punched a sleeping patient.
At 6.27am on February 3 last year, staff were alerted to smoke and flames coming from the victim’s room.
Mr Thorpe’s unresponsive body, wrapped in a sheet or towel, was pulled out, with the material still on fire.
A post-mortem examination found he suffered from injuries to his face and head from punches or kicks and he had been strangled.
There were burns to his face, neck, chest and arms from being set on fire after death.
At the time of Mr Thorpe’s death, a member of the nursing team was supposed to have sight of Bramble at all times, jurors were told.
But prosecutor Julian Evans said: “That level of observation simply did not happen.
Mr Thorpe was a “vulnerable” man who should have been under regular observation, the court heard.
Mr Evans said: “You might think he was very badly let down.”
Hossein Zahir QC, defending, said the staff were effectively employed on a “rogue ward” to a night shift “wholly out of control”.
A workforce investigation dated June 29 2019 made findings and a support worker was summarily dismissed on July 31 2019 “as were others”, jurors were told.