Stab victim of Springfield Hospital escapee Mark Ricketts speaks out
A man who was stabbed 20 times has spoken of his anger following his attacker’s second escape from a mental health hospital.
Mark Ricketts, 47, who was convicted of attempted murder in 1994, went missing on Saturday evening, March 22, from Springfield Hospital, in Tooting.
The public were only alerted via the media on Tuesday, March 25, when police issued an urgent warning advising people not to approach him and call 999 immediately if sighted.
His victim, Mark Kemp, 43, still suffers from the incident 20 years on. He said the escape was ‘beyond a joke’ and has called for Springfield to be closed.
Ricketts was on ‘planned leave’ when he disappeared, without any medication. The hospital refused to go into further details of how he went missing arguing it would infringe patient confidentiality.
Mr Kemp, founder of The Independent Victims' Helpline UK, was informed of the escape on Monday March 24 and advised to stay away from the Tooting area.
He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, spent seven years on the streets and is about to go into hospital to have another operation on his stab wounds.
He said: “I have suffered enough from that and should be allowed to move on from that.
“The point is Springfield has such a history of errors and mistakes and escapes. I think it is time we pulled the plug on it.
“The point is Springfield Hospital isn’t learning from its mistakes and never apologises for any of its escapes.
“I only got £3,800 in damages – they never took into account post traumatic stress disorder. I lost my living when I was stabbed on the street. It is quite incapacitating. The escape made it worse.
“There’s no alert to the public – Broadmoor has a warning system and Springfield should have one for local residents.
“The families are also just as much the victims. They didn’t warn my mum for instance. My family still live in Tooting and I’m always in Tooting and Balham.
“I got a telephone call from a police officer saying he was working overtime. He gave me a reference number and said are you the same gentleman who was attacked before. He said ‘you know Mark Ricketts has escaped again’.
“I just thought how can that be? It’s brought everything back.
“I don’t have a person I can say ‘I trust you – will you tell me if he escapes again?’I don’t trust the government, of the home office and I definitely don’t trust the hospital.”
Springfield Hospital in Tooting
Ricketts was picked up by police on a bus in Lewisham in the early hours of Thursday March 27.
In 2004 a huge manhunt was launched after Ricketts escaped from Springfield Hospital while on day visit from Broadmoor, in Berkshire.
He spent six days on the run.
An independent inquiry highlighted serious blunders by Springfield Hospital.
Sadiq Khan the MP for Tooting has written to the hospital’s chief executive David Bradley calling for a new inquiry to be undertaken into the latest escape after residents contacted him concerned about the handling of the escape.
He said: "This is a relationship that relies on candour and honesty, and the local community feels badly let down."
Dr Emma Whicher, South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust Medical Director, said: "We are conducting a root cause analysis of the event. This will look into all the circumstances and will include input from health professionals."
A police spokeswoman said the public would not have been alerted sooner because officers would be making other enquiries and that not everything was done via the media.
Instead officers can make other enquiries behind the scenes first such as speaking to bus companies, trains and looking into phone records.
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