Stabbing man freed after mental health assessment
March 08, 2010
THE police and probation services in Surrey have expressed concern as a “dangerous” knifeman who stabbed his flatmate more than 30 times was freed because doctors said his mental condition was being controlled by medication.
David Riley, 49, of Chilsey Green Road, Chertsey, was the subject of a ‘special verdict’ in December last year when a jury was directed to clear him of attempted murder by reason of insanity.
He was held at high security Belmarsh prison pending sentencing at the Old Bailey on Monday, but the hearing was told that three consultant psychiatrists found he had been “mentally stable” while undergoing treatment.
It meant the judge was powerless to prevent Riley’s release.
He will be monitored in the community for two years and has been ordered to comply with a mental health care plan, but cannot be forced to take his medication while free.
The not guilty verdict was allowed after doctors found a depressive illness caused an incident of automatism which led to the attack in Chertsey in July 2007.
Riley burst into the bedroom of his housemate Michael Roberts in the middle of the night armed with a large knife, leaving his victim with multiple wounds, a broken arm and a punctured lung.
Prosecutor Simon Connolly told the court there was “no suggestion from any witness for an apparent motive” and that “even the victim had absolutely no idea why the defendant attacked him”.
Riley told a doctor he had not been taking medication for his depression and just “flipped”.
Mr Connolly said he was “suffering from such a deficiency of reason because of a disease of the mind that he did not know the nature or quality of the act he was doing”.
Following the not guilty verdict in December, Judge Giles Forrester QC ordered medical reports to determine whether Riley should be detained indefinitely in hospital for treatment.
But the court heard that during his assessment he was found to be “mentally stable” and showing “no symptoms of mental illness” while on medication.
As a result, a hospital order under the terms of the Mental Health Act could not be imposed and because of the terms of the special verdict Riley could not be jailed.
In the months leading up to the attack he complained of suffering low moods and suicidal thoughts, and was on anti-depressants and had been referred to a psychiatric nurse and a community mental health team in Chertsey.
Alex Williams, counsel for Surrey Police and Surrey Probation, told the sentencing hearing: “Their concerns are very grave and there view is [that] there are no teeth to a supervision order.
“That supervision would rely on Mr Riley being compliant and it is all very well that he has complied whilst in prison with taking his medicine.
“There is concern by MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) that they have no power to control his behaviour or indeed his movement once he is released. He could leave this court and go wherever he wanted.
“He is a danger and unmanageable in the community.
“The concern of the police and the probation service is [that], without the structure of a hospital order or prison, on remand he will not submit to the treatment.”
Addressing Mr Williams, Judge Forrester said: “I have sympathy with your point of view, I entirely understand, but if the present position is his mental state is stable and his depressive illness is successfully treated, the one thing I cannot do is make a hospital order with or without restrictions. I simply cannot do it.”
Riley was made subject of a two-year supervision order, with conditions of residence and the supervision of a doctor, and he will be monitored by Surrey probation service under the terms of a care plan devised by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
The plan will include arrangements for his accommodation, finances, training and employment, and liaison with his family.
Riley could be subject to further assessment under the Mental Health Act or be detained if he does not comply with the order or if concerns are raised about his mental state.
A police statement released following the hearing said: "Surrey Police and Surrey Probation work with other organisations under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements to manage any risk posed to the public by offenders released from custody.
"Following the decision of the court in this case, we will work together with our MAPPA partners to ensure adherence to the terms of the supervision order and [to] minimise risk to the public."