Belfast Telegraph

Police and hospital slammed by family of train death Belfast man Jonathan Magee

BY Cate McCurry

The mother of a mentally ill man who died when he was struck by a train after going missing from a hospital while allegedly left alone has said police and health officials could have done more to save him.

Jonathan Magee (29) was killed at Knockmore Bridge near Lisburn in January 2011.

On the day before his death Mr Magee had been waiting more than seven hours to be psychologically assessed at Belfast City Hospital when he left and disappeared in the early hours of January 29.

The remains of the Belfast man, who was known to family and friends as Jonny, were found that afternoon.

His mother Maureen Smith told an inquest that in the week before her son died police mounted a search for him after the family raised concerns for his wellbeing.

The hearing was told that Mr Magee believed people wished him harm and were spying on him. He also believed there were spies in hospitals.

Mrs Smith said that, three days before the death, Mr Magee, who had a history of mental illness and who was said to be suffering from a psychotic disorder, suddenly rang for an ambulance while visiting her at her Newtownabbey home.

She added: "I didn't know what was wrong with him, but he was in an agitated state. He got a phone call from the Mater Hospital, who said they had a bed ready for him.

"Later that night I got a phone call from the hospital to say he had left, but staff didn't know where he went to."

The following day Mr Magee called to his sister Julie's home, where he stayed for a number of hours. After he left she discovered that he had taken her medication.

On the day before his death Julie went to her brother's home and found her medication and two knives lying on the kitchen floor, but she was unable to find him.

Mrs Smith then contacted police because she was concerned for his safety and believed that he would "do something stupid".

Hours later a police sniffer dog located him in the Cave Hill Country Park with both wrists slashed and bleeding.

At around 6pm Mr Magee was taken to the accident and emergency department of Belfast City Hospital and treated for his injuries.

Medical staff also arranged for an independent GP to assess whether he should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The doctor was due to arrive at the hospital at 12.30am.

However, he was delayed by more than an hour and 15 minutes, and at around 1.15am Mr Magee walked out of the hospital.

A little over 12 hours later he was found dead near Lisburn.

Mrs Smith said she believed that hospital staff could have done more to help her son and to stop him from leaving.

"He was supposed to be sectioned by medical staff, but they left it too late," she added.

"When he was leaving the hospital, staff told his dad Ronnie to run after him, but he could barely walk. I was contacted by police that morning to say he had left, but that was it. Then, a few hours later, two officers called to my home and said that he was dead.

"The police and hospital authorities should not have left him on his own. Police should have waited with him, especially after he slashed his wrists. The police took a long time contacting me after Jonny's death - it was reported on the local news before I heard from them."

A post-mortem examination conducted by State Pathologist Dr James Lyness found that the cause of death was multiple injuries sustained in the collision, including multiple lacerations of his scalp and face and injuries to the brain that would have proven fatal.

The driver of the train that struck Mr Magee also told of the moments leading up to the collision, explaining that while he saw him on the tracks, it was too late to do anything.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph