Hospital blunder led to dangerous convict's escape

Wandsworth Guardian: Schizophrenic Mark Ricketts stabbed a stranger 20 times Schizophrenic Mark Ricketts stabbed a stranger 20 times

Serious blunders at Springfield Hospital led to a highly dangerous attempted murderer going on the run in Tooting, an inquiry has revealed.

Broadmoor patient Mark Ricketts, 39, a schizophrenic convicted of attempted murder after stabbing a stranger 20 times, absconded during a day-trip to Springfield Hospital in Tooting.

The independent inquiry, published last year and obtained by the Balham and Tooting Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, blames both Springfield and Broadmoor staff for the abscontion on September 8, 2004.

It said Springfield staff "forgot" about the visit and Broadmoor failed to confirm it.

And it revealed a Springfield ward manager who has not been named took Ricketts and his Broadmoor escorts on an unplanned trip outside a secure zone.

It was during the unplanned trip that the unhandcuffed Ricketts outran guards and climbed over a fence, spending six days on the run before being recaptured.

Victim Mark Kemp, stabbed by Ricketts while working as a Tooting doorman in 1994, now runs The Independent Victims' Helpline UK.

Mr Kemp said: "It just goes to show they do not value people's lives. It is the whole community that is endangered by his escape and at no point was there any warning."

The report, chaired by Broadmoor clinical director Andrew Payne, makes 13 recommendations to tighten security in future visits.

South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust interim chief executive Chris Carter said Broadmoor was responsible for the handcuff decision.

He said Broadmoor staff were never ordered to go anywhere during the visit.

Mr Carter said: "There is no basis for a reprimand for the Shaftesbury ward manager.

"However, as with all inquiries, we take on board any lessons to be learned for our organisation and we agree with the recommendations."

A spokesman for West London Mental Health Trust, responsible for Broadmoor, said the report's recommendations had been taken on board.

Springfield Hospital is also facing an external inquiry into the abscontion of patient John Barrett, who stabbed a cyclist to death in Richmond Park in 2004.


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