Mental health staff cleared over handling of grandmother’s killer

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THE murder of a 76-year-old woman by her granddaughter could not have been anticipated by mental health workers, an independent investigation has found.

Joanne Hussey battered Alzheimer’s sufferer Annie Garbutt to death in 2007 at the pensioner’s home.

Hussey, of Yeadon, Leeds, was sentenced to life in prison the following year.

The judge accepted that at the time of the killing Hussey was suffering from a mental illness, but her denial of murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility was rejected by the jury at Leeds Crown Court.

An investigation into Hussey’s treatment concluded that there was no evidence the murder could have been foreseen.

The newly published report, which describes Hussey as Miss A, said: “We are absolutely clear there is no evidence that anyone involved with Miss A’s care and treatment could have anticipated that Miss A was capable of carrying out the murder of her grandmother.

“It is very unlikely that anything could have been done by trust staff that would have changed the course of events.”

Hussey, then 33, initially denied all knowledge of the killing, but after being confronted by CCTV footage showing journeys to and from her grandmother’s home, she admitted manslaughter.

The court heard that the Royal Mail worker struck Mrs Garbutt with a spade in the head and chest while she lay in bed at her cottage in Mirfield.

Sentencing her to at least 20 years in prison, Judge Scott Wolstenholme said he accepted Hussey was suffering from bipolar disease at the time and that she was under considerable stress dealing with the possibility of losing her job and caring for her disabled daughter, but it was “striking” that she felt no remorse.

The independent report said the main focus of her care from health services was treatment and looking for improvement in symptoms.

Investigators said they were impressed by the “thoughtfulness, diligence and commitment” of staff involved in her treatment but that Hussey “chose not to take advantage of all they had to offer”.

Recommendations included that there should be more systems for monitoring care plans.

Responding to the report, Chris Butler, chief executive of mental health services provider Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said it was a tragic event and expressed his deepest sympathy to all involved.

He added: “Although there was no direct link between the recommendations and the events of May 2007, our services have moved on since the incident occurred, and through the regular reviewing of procedures and changes in national guidance, we hope to further minimise the occurrence of such events.”

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