More help after ill man stabbed himself

A DESPERATE mother's attempts to get psychiatric help for her son just days before he attacked her and then stabbed himself to death only got through to an answerphone, it was revealed today.

A DESPERATE mother's attempts to get psychiatric help for her son just days before he attacked her and then stabbed himself to death only got through to an answerphone, it was revealed today.

Christopher Carroll killed himself on September 10, 2004 in the back garden of a bungalow in Ludbrook Close, in Needham Market, after his personality disorder spiralled out of control.

At an inquest yesterday, his mother Florence Weston raised concerns over difficulties in being able to contact the community psychiatric nurse (CPN) as his mental health deteriorated.

Ms Weston said she had tried to call a number given to her in order to get help from a CPN in the days leading up to his death, but only got through to an answerphone.

Margaret Little, service manager for Suffolk Mental Health, told the court that there was now a 24-hour crisis intervention service in place which could help to avoid a similar tragedy from occurring.

Speaking after the inquest, Ms Weston said: “I'm just grateful some changes and improvements have been made.”

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The court heard how Mr Carroll, 32 at the time of his death, had caused concern among his family in the days leading up to the tragedy as the tell-tale signs of his illness started to appear.

Shortly before 6am on September 10, Mr Carroll banged on the door of his mother's house, shattering a glass pane and cutting his hands and wrists in the process.

The 64-year-old opened the door and Mr Carroll went inside, shouting “what's my name?” and “what's your name?”

It was at this point that he struck his mother across the side of the head causing her to fall against the kitchen units. She ran out of her home with blood pouring from her head, falling on the way causing her to cut her hands and knees.

Detective Inspector Mike Bacon told the inquest that officers arrived on scene and saw Mr Carroll standing outside the property pointing a knife at them, before he walked back inside.

He continued: “He reappeared and then walked into the garden where he threw a plastic chair and a watering can over the fence.

“He had not been seen for some minutes so officers approached and saw a male lying in the foliage holding a knife. His lips were blue.”

The court heard how Mr Carroll, who was born in Liverpool, had started to suffer mental health problems while studying for a fine art degree at university in Hull.

It emerged there had been other incidents of self harm, including a previous attempt to stab himself in the chest, and in July 2003, police in riot gear were involved in a five-hour stand-off with Mr Carroll at his mother's Needham Market home after he barricaded himself in the bathroom.

However, consultant psychiatrists and other experts who worked with him told the inquest that his condition had been improving and Mr Carroll had a new-found optimism for his future.

His mother remembered him as a caring son who had never shown violence towards anyone but himself.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of taking his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed, after hearing evidence from a range of experts and witnesses.

In delivering his verdict, Dr Dean said when he was not suffering from his illness, Mr Carroll was kind and considerate.

He added: “Things unravelled very quickly indeed with terrifying circumstances. Clearly, when he was well he was not someone who would have done this.”

Timeline of events:

September 9, 11pm - Christopher Carroll leaves his mother's house clearly agitated. He visits his sister Janice while she is at work at Tesco in Stowmarket and is verbally abusive towards her.

September 10, 2am - There are reports of Mr Carroll throwing items out of the window of his flat in Stowmmarket.

September 10, 5.45am - Driving along the old A45 from Stowmarket to Needham Market, Mr Carroll gets out of his Vauxhall Astra estate and starts run along the road.

September 10, 5.50am - A baker - 19-year-old Lloyd Keeling - is driving along the same road on his way to work and is forced to swerve suddenly to avoid Mr Carroll, before his Renault Clio car strikes a verge and flips over. Mr Keeling escapes with minor injuries.

September 10, 6am - Mr Carroll wakes his mother by banging on her front door. After a stand-off with police, he stabs himself in the chest.

September 10, 7.12am - Mr Carroll is pronounced dead by paramedics unable to resuscitate him.

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