Why was Sean sent out into community?

THE heartbroken family of a Sheffield man who died days after being released from a psychiatric unit today hit out at mental health bosses.

Sean Smith died at a friend's house in Parson Cross after taking a cocktail of prescription drugs, methadone and alcohol.

But his family said after an inquest into the tragedy they believed he had been released too soon from Forest Lodge psychiatric unit, Forest Close, Oughtibridge.

They said Mr Smith had stabbed both his parents in a frenzied attack some years ago and was a danger to himself and others.

The inquest heard unemployed Mr Smith, aged 32, of Deerlands Avenue, Parson Cross, had a history of violence, solvent and alcohol abuse and had been sectioned three times.

But after a 28-day assessment at the secure unit in Oughtibridge staff concluded he did not suffer from schizophrenia and said his troubles were largely due to alcohol abuse.

Despite the diagnosis, Mr Smith was later prescribed treatment by another doctor for schizophrenia as well as anti-depressants and diazepam.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Andrew MacNeill told the inquest that when Mr Smith was not taking alcohol the symptoms that looked like schizophrenia – including hearing voices – were not there.

The inquest heard Mr Smith had sniffed glue since the age of 12, usually had a bottle of cider with him and took prescription tablets to keep calm.

He had been known to take a week's worth of prescribed diazepam tablets – tranquillisers – in one day.

Toxicology reports showed Mr Smith had alcohol, methadone and diazepam in his system which – when combined – could be lethal.

Recording a verdict of death by misadventure, Coroner Chris Dorries said: "This was a young man with a lot of problems in his life, but there is no real proof that he intended to take his own life.

"He does take his medication in one go which would not be uncommon for anyone in his situation. I think his death was not deliberate."

After the inquest, mum Christine Smith, of Walden Road, Lowfield, and sister Tania hit out at Sheffield Care Trust saying Mr Smith should not have been released back into the community so quickly.

Tania said: "We feel angry and bitter. He's never been sane and I cannot understand why they said he wasn't ill but then gave him drugs for schizophrenia.

"The service let him down. How many others will they let out into the community like this?"

Christine added: "We just want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else. We don't want others to go through what we've been through."

But today Kevan Taylor, Chief Executive of Sheffield Care Trust, said Mr Smith had been encouraged to stay in hospital but was keen to leave.

H e said an agreement was then made between Mr Smith, one of his relatives and medical staff allowing the assessment order to expire.

He said Mr Smith was given temporary accommodation, was seen in out-patient clinics, given care by community-based psychiatric nurses and offered support from the Trust's Drug and Alcohol service.

Mr Taylor said: "We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Sean Smith.

"Mr Smith's family can contact me at any time where I will be pleased to discuss any issues they may have.

"The family has made a formal complaint to the Trust and this is currently being thoroughly investigated and will be responded to shortly."