Risks of paranoid would-be killer missed on three occasions

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Three major opportunities were missed to assess risks posed by a paranoid schizophrenic who repeatedly stabbed a young woman in a supermarket, according to a report published yesterday.

Samuel Reid-Wentworth, who harboured fantasies about killing young women, inflicted around 21 stab wounds on Lucy Yates with a 9in pocket knife six weeks after being discharged from a mental health unit.

Miss Yates, then 22, survived the attack, in a grocery store in Littlehampton, West Sussex, in September 2008.

Reid-Wentworth was locked up under the Mental Health Act by a judge at Lewes Crown Court the following February, when he was also 22, for attempted murder. He is detained indefinitely.

Investigators Verita considered the care he had received from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

It said three major opportunities were missed during the treatment of Reid-Wentworth, known in the report as Mr Z.

The first was when he was first admitted to psychiatric services in August 2007, after assaulting two female strangers on the same day; each occasion involved a weapon.

“The motivation underlying the assaults and the significance of his associated symptoms were never fully explored,” the report says.

The second opportunity was when he was transferred to the rehabilitation and recovery unit after five months on the acute admission ward. Assessment of risk was incomplete, the report said.

The third major opportunity was when he was readmitted to the acute mental health ward after the re-emergence of psychotic symptoms including thoughts of killing people.

“The management plan at this stage contained no specific strategy to manage the increased level of risk of harm to others that Mr Z posed,” the report says.

Lewes Crown Court heard that Reid-Wentworth selected Miss Yates as a target after having fantasises about drinking the blood of an attractive young woman.

NHS South of England nursing director Liz Redfern said the attempted murder took place in 2008. “Learning and the improvement of services by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust began to take place as soon as the outcome of the initial investigation (by the trust) was known. The outcome of this full independent investigation has continued to influence ongoing improvements.”