Report ‘To Attack Killer’s Care’

An independent inquiry into the care given to a paranoid schizophrenic who killed a man in a vicious knife attack after being allowed to leave a psychiatric hospital will be published.

John Barrett repeatedly stabbed 50-year-old Denis Finnegan with a kitchen knife, after ambushing him as he cycled through Richmond Park, south-west London, in September 2004.

Despite his long history of mental illness and violent past, Barrett had been given “ground leave” from Springfield Hospital in Tooting, south London, which he attended voluntarily the previous night.

Barrett, who was jailed for life in March 2005 for the killing, had previously been detained at the hospital after injuring three people in a knife attack.

There is speculation that the report will be highly critical of the whole system of care given to the paranoid schizophrenic leading up to the attack.

It was ordered by South West London Strategic Health Authority and has been chaired by mental health solicitor Robert Robinson.

Barrett pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility and is now being treated in Broadmoor Hospital.

At his trial, the court heard that between September 2002 and October 2003, Barrett had been detained in the Shaftesbury Clinic, a secure unit at Springfield Hospital, after being convicted of a vicious knife attack on two patients and a nurse at nearby St George’s Hospital.

Between November 2003 and August 2004 there were periods of 10 weeks, 13 weeks and 11 weeks when he was not assessed by a consultant despite a requirement for him to see a psychiatrist at least once a month.