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Nurse defends work before killings

Published 21/05/2015

John Jenkin, 25, killed two people at the family home in Millom, Cumbria
John Jenkin, 25, killed two people at the family home in Millom, Cumbria

A mental health nurse has defended his judgment that a man who went on to kill his mother and sister less than 48 hours later was no risk to himself or others.

John Jenkin, 25, was marked as "zero" risk to himself on a scale of 0 to 10 after hours earlier attempting suicide when he cut his wrists and attempted to drown himself at a nature reserve.

Jenkin had also taken a cocktail of whisky, painkillers, LSD and the cannabis substitute Spice.

Following his release from hospital he axed to death University of Wales student Katie Jenkin, 20, and machine operator Alice McMeekin, 58, at the family home in Newton Street, Millom, Cumbria on June 8 2013.

An inquest into their deaths heard Jenkin was admitted for a 90-minute assessment at Dane Garth mental health unit at Furness General Hospital two days earlier.

Nurse Garry Dixon explained that Jenkin told him he had been stressed because of tensions with his mother and that he had a sense of hopelessness.

He added: "He said he was sorry about it and was adamant there would be no repeat of it. He said 'I can assure you it will never happen again'.

"He said he would stop taking drugs and was hopeful he would get a job."

Giving evidence at Barrow Town Hall, Mr Dixon said he believed he was "very thorough" in his job and was "very experienced" in assessing risk.

He said: "I did everything that I was supposed to do. I didn't think I could have done any more. There was no anger or animosity between John and his mother."

Given Jenkin's background, he was asked by HM Coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, why he had scored the risk of self harm as zero.

Mr Dixon replied: "The reason I concluded no risk was the totality of the assessment. His willingness to engage, he was remorseful, he was future orientated, he was intending to go to college, he was intending to find work, and he had no inclination to repeat the same process."

He said that on reflection for "selfish reasons" he now wished he had scored him at three but could not have marked him any higher.

He added: "I had John at the heart of what I was doing and that is what guided me through the whole process."

He said that Mrs McMeekin, who attended the unit, did not appear frightened of her son at any stage.

Mr Dixon said: "She was thankful. She was grateful for me speaking to him and she was happy he was coming home."

The inquests have heard evidence from other witnesses including members of the public, police officers and paramedics that Jenkin was acting strangely in their presence on June 6 before he was taken to hospital.

Mr Dixon said he did not present that way to him later that day, other than his appearance of having just come off a beach.

Yesterday, the court heard that a forklift truck driver had dialled 999 over concerns about Jenkin's behaviour and that he had told him: "I'm not gonna kill me mother."

That information was not passed on by the police to paramedics who transported Jenkin to hospital.

Mr Dixon said the comment was "unusual" and would have prompted him to ask "a lot more questions".

He said: " I would have asked John what that meant to him and what did it mean.

"That in turn could have led to all sorts of discussions and then it could have impacted on the outcome."

Mr Roberts asked him if he had felt any pressure when assessing Jenkin about possible limited bed spaces.

The witness replied he had not been concerned with resources.

He said that Jenkin had been offered voluntary admission to hospital but declined and only showed interest in cognitive behavioural therapy which he agreed to be referred to.

An internal review by Mr Dixon's employers, Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust, ruled the nurse acted in line with trust policy, the court heard.

Jenkin pleaded guilty last March to two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility following evidence that he was suffering from a schizo-affected disorder.

He was later sentenced to serve a minimum term of 13 years and four months before he can be considered for parole.

The inquests heard that Mr Dixon would not have been expected to diagnose any mental disorder.

However, the nurse is expected to be criticised for some of his actions in a report from consultant forensic psychiatrist Professor Bob Peckitt who will give evidence tomorrow when the joint inquest is expected to conclude.

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