Decision to discharge mentally-ill man killed weeks after leaving hospital defended

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A mentally ill man who died when he was punched four weeks after he was let out of hospital was in a fit state to be discharged, an inquest heard.

Jon-Paul Smith, aged 42, of St George’s Close, Upperthorpe, died after being punched and hitting his head on the pavement outside the Melt late bar on West Street on September 5, 2014.

Mr Smith, who was originally from Liverpool, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act on June 3, 2014 but was discharged on August 6.

The inquest at Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard Mr Smith’s mental health deteriorated after his discharge from the Maple ward within the Northern General Hospital.

The jury heard how on day release on August 5, the family had described Jon-Paul’s behaviour as ‘erratic’ but staff on the ward decided Mr Smith was fit to be discharged the following day.

Beryl Smith, Jon-Paul’s mother, previously told the inquest he should have ‘never been let out of hospital’ and described the family’s initial ‘shock’ when they were told he had been released.

But Mark Walton, discharge co-ordinator on the Maple ward, defended the decision to discharge Mr Smith.

He said: “We felt it was safe and that we had seen a distinct improvement in Jon-Paul’s mental state and his presentation had been better.”

Sheffield Assistant Deputy Coroner David Urpeth asked why the family were not kept up-to-date with Jon-Paul’s discharge despite asking to be.

Mr Walton said: “We maintain a level of confidentiality and we would’ve had to have asked Jon-Paul to inform them about his decisions.

“However the family were notified on the point of discharge on August 6.”

The inquest heard from Shon Davies, a mental health social worker.

He said police told his team they couldn’t assist them to carry out another assessment, which could have resulted in Mr Smith being taken back to hospital between August 28 and his death on September 5.

He said: “It wasn’t safe to assess Mr Smith without support from the police. We contacted the police on a number of occasions but a lot of the time they said they would struggle to make it to Mr Smith’s property.”

The inquest previously heard how both Jon-Paul’s mother and his brother-in-law said his death was ‘foreseeable’ if he wasn’t returned to hospital.

The inquest continues.