Killer’s hospital discharge probe — (The Evening Chronicle)

SSRI Ed note: Man splits with girlfriend, overdoses. AD changed to paroxetine, causes agitation, changed again to citalopram, he worsens, murders her. Mental illness blamed.

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SSRI Stories Summary

Craig Sexton takes Prozac.  He argues with girlfriend and they break up.  He overdoses.   His antidepressant is changed to Seroxat (Paxil) which causes severe agitation, possibly akathisia.  He also continues to be suicidal.  A month later his medication is changed again, this time to citalopram.   He worsens, becomes extremely suicidal, is taken by father to hospital emergency where he says he will commit suicide when let out.  He is released and goes to his ex-girlfriend’s house and murders her.   The news articles do not mention anything about the SSRIs, and they are never considered as a possible factor in what occurred.

 By Evening Chronicle

00:00, 21 JAN 2005 Updated22:46, 27 FEB 2013

An independent inquiry has been launched to look at how a mentally ill man who stabbed his girlfriend to death was allowed to leave a hospital unit hours earlier.

Craig Sexton used two knives to kill Lynda Lovatt in the living room of her house at Defoe Avenue in South Shields while her two young children slept upstairs.

Sexton, 30, who had a history of psychiatric illnesses, had been taken to North Tyneside General Hospital by his parents on June 18.

But staff from Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Mental Health Trust told him to come back the next day after carrying out an examination.

Later that day, Sexton travelled from his home at Trinity Street, North Shields, to Lynda’s house, where he attacked and killed her.

He is due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court today after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Prosecutor John Evans said: “The doctors have satisfied themselves that at the time of the killing the defendant was suffering from an abnormality of mind induced by diseases.

“That abnormality was a depressive illness occurring against a background of anxious avoidant personality disorder.”

Health bosses have announced an independent inquiry into Sexton’s treatment and care.

The review has been commissioned by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Strategic Health Authority and the final report and findings will be made public.

It is not known how long the inquiry will last and the panel, which will include a solicitor, a consultant forensic psychiatrist and a senior psychiatric nurse, has not yet been made.

A spokeswoman from the SHA said: “The inquiry is taking place under health service guidelines which apply when crimes of murder or manslaughter are committed by people who have been receiving mental health services.

“The final report and findings of the independent inquiry will be made public.”

Beryl Lovatt of Browntop Place, South Shields, who is attending court to see Sexton sentenced, said: “The public won’t be safe until we know what happened.”

Mrs Lovatt is now bringing up her grandchildren James, seven, and Amy, four.

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Report to Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Strategic Health Authority of the Independent Inquiry Panel into the Health Care and Treatment of Craig Sexton


A Factual information for period from early 2004 to June 2004

Craig Sexton did not attend his GP in South Tyneside between September 2002 and 19th January 2004. On 19th January 2004 he reported continued problems with anxiety which restricted his capacity to socialise. It was noted ‘still v.v. shy – doesn’t go out of home’ His GP (ST2) suggested a re-referral to the personal advisors service at his attendance on 19th January 2004 and Craig agreed to consider this.   Medical records from North Tyneside General Hospital indicate that Craig attended accident and emergency on the morning of 17th February 2004 at 9am, reporting that he had taken an overdose of Fluoxetine and Paracetamol the previous day.  He was assessed and on medical advice was discharged home ‘in good condition’ and advised to see his own GP for further help. It is recorded that he had a “moderate BECKS score”.  There were no physical needs identified at this time.  On 18th February 2004 the self harm and liaison psychiatry team at North Tyneside General Hospital wrote to the mental health liaison team based in South Tyneside to confirm that the South Tyneside team would send Craig a follow up appointment, having alerted them to the fact that he had taken an overdose. A copy letter was also sent to Craig’s GP (ST2).


On 23rd February 2004, Craig returned to his GP (ST2) reporting that Lynda Lovatt had thrown him out.  He was looking for a flat.  He reported that he had taken an overdose of Fluoxetine and Paracetamol the previous week.  His general practitioner referred Craig back to the personal advisors service (PAS).  Craig Sexton was not seen by the PAS until 25th May 2004.  Correspondence confirmed that an initial appointment had been sent by PAS to Craig Sexton on 4th March 2004, with an appointment for 25th March. This appointment was accepted by Craig on 10th March. On 22nd March, the appointment was cancelled due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and on 2nd April, PAS wrote to GP (ST2) cancelling all counselling for the time being due to ‘long term sick leave’. On 13th April a new appointment was sent to Craig Sexton for 25th May.

Craig saw GP (ST2) on 22nd March 2004, when he reported that he was moving to North Shields.  It was noted that he was not suicidal and that he was due to see the counsellor that week. This referred to the original appointment for the 25th March which was cancelled by the letter sent on 22nd March and which by then he had not received

On 14th April 2004, now living in North Shields, Craig Sexton had a new patient medical in his new North Shields general practice.  His GP (NT3) noted the history of a recent relationship breakdown and overdose.  It was noted that he appeared very nervous, was not sleeping well and his appetite was poor.  He had previously seen a counsellor in South Shields and was still awaiting a new follow up appointment there.

He was reviewed by GPNT4 (another doctor in the practice) on 20th May 2004 (wrongly recorded in the medical notes as 2nd May) when his antidepressant was changed from Fluoxetine to Paroxetine.

On 25th May 2004, Craig Sexton was seen by the personal advisors service (PAS) in South Shields.  At this assessment various assessment documents were used.  Included was a therapy assessment form.  The inquiry notes that this document was not completed fully.  On 26th May 2004, a letter was sent from the


personal advisors service in South Tyneside to Craig Sexton’s new GP (NT3) in North Tyneside.  It was noted that he had moved from South Shields to North Shields and was registered with the new GP and in view of the fact that he was now living outside their area PAS could no longer help. The letter said that Craig Sexton was extremely anxious and unable to sit still throughout the whole session, unable to stay talking on one subject and constantly pulling at his clothes and stretching his arms out. He had previously taken an overdose but had no intention of repeating it. He was said to be very upset by the end of his relationship with Lynda. GP (NT3) was urged to arrange to see Craig Sexton ‘very soon’.

Craig Sexton was seen in his general practice on three occasions in early June 2004.

On 4th June, it is recorded by GP (NT3) that Craig Sexton had been more agitated in the previous two weeks and had not been sleeping.  He appeared restless.  It was questioned whether this was a reaction to Paroxetine and his antidepressant was changed to Citalopram.  It was noted that he would require a referral to a counsellor.  He was to be reviewed four days later…

…involvement of the CATS with Craig Sexton occurred at 23.55 pm on 18th June 2004, when Craig Sexton’s sister contacted the team informing them that the police had been called to Lynda Lovatt’s home.  Craig had gone to visit Lynda Lovatt and then had telephoned to say that he thought he may have killed Lynda Lovatt.