Family's battle for shooting payout
CHILDREN of a Suffolk man who shot three people before killing himself are suing two health organisations for alleged negligence.The family of mentally-ill John Piccolo claimed North Essex Health Authority and Mid Essex Community and Mental Health Trust had failed to recognise his increasing need for acute psychiatric care and had not committed him under the mental health act.
CHILDREN of a Suffolk man who shot three people before killing himself are suing two health organisations for alleged negligence.
The family of mentally-ill John Piccolo claimed North Essex Health Authority and Mid Essex Community and Mental Health Trust had failed to recognise his increasing need for acute psychiatric care and had not committed him under the mental health act.
They alleged that had led to the horse dealer shooting his son Darren in the head at their farmhouse in Dallinghoo, near Woodbridge, in September 1998, leaving him with permanent brain damage.
Mr Piccolo then drove to Ford End, near Dunmow, and shot his ex-girlfriend Jane Smith and her new partner Martin Cass, killing him instantly.
Ms Smith survived her injuries and Mr Piccolo later turned the gun on himself when cornered by police in Ingatestone. He died in hospital the following day.
Darren Piccolo, his seven-year-old son Michael, his sister Lisa and his brother John junior have all issued the claim form at the High Court, claiming unlimited damages against the health authority and health trust for the "pain and suffering, injury and loss" they had endured.
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John Piccolo junior said yesterday: "Every member of the family has suffered in various ways, all of them negative. Until we get some kind of resolution, our minds will always be on it."
Two years after the shootings, an inquiry was commissioned by North Essex Health Authority and it identified weaknesses and staff shortages in the mental health system, but did not hold any officials responsible.
But the Piccolo family branded the inquiry a "whitewash" and commissioned an independent psychiatrist to look at the case.
John Piccolo junior said: "We have always said that, had the health authority done things differently, the circumstances would be entirely different from the way they are now. Having an independent opinion is hopefully going to justify that and show that to be the case."
Mr Piccolo's mother Maisie spoke about the anguish her family had suffered since the incident and how it had robbed her grandson Darren of his health at a young age.
"I cannot say how it has affected everyone, but we think about it every day. Our lives have been shattered and we will never be the same," she said.
"When Darren had the first operation, they said he did not have much of a chance, then he had to get a metal plate in his head, then he had a blood clot in his brain.
"He has had three operations in all, but still he cannot talk properly. When I ring him, sometimes he cannot say a word and other times he can. He is only 30 and his life is gone."
North Essex Health Authority and Mid Essex Community and Mental Health Trust confirmed they had received the claim form, but would not comment further because legal proceedings had started.