Mental health patient sectioned after throwing coffee in worker's face

The Woodlands mental health unit in Ipswich Picture: ARCHANT

The Woodlands mental health unit in Ipswich  - Credit: LUCY TAYLOR

A mental health patient who threw hot coffee in the face of a support worker has been sectioned indefinitely.

Thomas Salmon appeared before Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday to be sentenced for assaulting an emergency worker and causing actual bodily harm.

The court heard that Salmon had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act in mid-August 2019 and admitted to the Woodlands unit on the Ipswich Hospital site.

Days into his stay, on August 20, the 56-year-old threw a cup of cold coffee towards a ward matron after she stepped in to break up a confrontation with another member of staff.

Prosecutor Brian Reece said that a week later, on August 27, Salmon threw a cup of hot coffee in the face of a clinical support worker after she denied his request to be served cheese and biscuits from the kitchen.

At an earlier hearing, on August 5 this year, Salmon admitted assaulting the ward matron and causing the clinical support worker actual bodily harm.

Matthew Sorel-Cameron, mitigating, invited the court to impose a period of imprisonment to be deemed served during the nine months and one week Salmon had already spent remanded in custody, including four-and-a-half months in Norwich prison.

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Mr Sorel-Cameron argued against the imposition of a Section 37 hospital order with a Section 41 restriction – requiring approval from the Secretary of State for Justice for a patient can be discharged.

He said Salmon had lived with his illness in the community for years without causing, threatening, or intending to do anyone serious harm, and that a Section 41 restriction would serve only to reduce his prospect of returning to normal life.

A psychiatric report said that Salmon had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which was now 'treatment resistant' following bouts of substance misuse to self-medicate between mental health unit admissions.

The court heard that Salmon's increasing aggression was now being managed at a medium security mental health unit.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist, Dr Toral Thomas said Salmon's personality had grown "damaged and fragmented", and that, when left to his own devices in the community, he failed to engage with mental health services.

Judge Martyn Levett ruled it necessary to impose a Section 37 hospital order with a Section 41 restriction to avoid any further risk to the public.