Health trust probe under way after freed paranoid schizophrenic killed mother

A health trust is carrying out an internal investigation after a paranoid schizophrenic killed his mother following his discharge from hospital care.

Lee Sowerby (pictured), 45, had already received two hospital orders from the courts before he stabbed to death his mother, Mary Annie Sowerby, 69, at her home in the village of Dearham, Cumbria, in January.

Sentencing him to life with a minimum term of 11 years at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday, Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown QC said he doubted the killing would have happened if Sowerby had not received an absolute discharge from a hospital order in 2012.

He also said it was “astonishing” the defendant was not allowed to see a doctor six days before the killing, when his father Leonard took him to a community mental health facility in Workington and pleaded he be put back on medication.

A spokeswoman for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust expressed sympathies to the family and friends of Mrs Sowerby.

She said: “Following the tragic death of Mrs Sowerby we launched an internal investigation, which is still ongoing, and we were fully co-operative with the police investigation.

“Once concluded, findings will be shared with the family and the coroner.

“We are committed to providing the best possible service that we can for our patients and have already started to implement learning from this tragic event and will continue to do so across mental health services.”

Sowerby, who had a lengthy history of mental illness, was first sent to hospital after an armed robbery at a bank and causing a bomb hoax in 1996 – and then again following an incident in 2008 in which he attempted to stab his brother’s girlfriend.

On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. His not guilty plea to murder was accepted by the Crown.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, said Sowerby’s last hospital admission was in March 2018 on an informal basis following an incident in which he was carrying knives.

He was released the following month, but his mental health deteriorated when he stopped taking his prescribed medication and also began drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

In October 2018, the mental health team visited his home address and noted there was a knife visible in his living room – which he said was for his own protection from drug dealers.

On the morning of January 22, while his father popped out on an errand, he stabbed his mother “a multiplicity of times” to the front and back of the chest and also her neck, left shoulder, both arms and left leg.

The court was told Leonard Sowerby felt the family had been “badly let down” by local mental health services.

Sowerby will start his sentence in a secure hospital in Middlesbrough and will be returned to prison once he is deemed fit for release.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Cumbria Constabulary.