Chelmsford Linden Centre: Man hit and killed by train after absconding from under-fire mental health unit

Chelmsford Railway Station

The government has announced a review into a series of deaths at the centre

Chelmsford Railway Station

A man was hit and killed by a train in Essex after absconding from an under-fire mental health unit in Chelmsford. 

The death on Friday, October 23, places more pressure on the Linden Centre –  the mental health unit currently subject to an independent review commissioned by health minister Nadine Dorries over a series of deaths spanning seven years.

The latest incident happened near Chelmsford just after 10pm after the patient – believed to be a young male – absconded from the centre in earlier that day.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were called to reports a man had gone missing from the Woodlands Way area of Chelmsford shortly after 8pm on Friday, October 23.

“We carried out a missing person investigation but suspended our search after a man’s body was later found on tracks at Chelmsford Railway Station later the same night.

“His death is not being treated as suspicious.”

A spokesman for the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, that runs the Linden Centre, said: “Police were called to the Linden Centre in Chelmsford on Friday October 23 evening after a patient absconded from the unit, and we have been informed that they have sadly died.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with their family and loved ones at this incredibly difficult time. We immediately launched an investigation and are supporting police colleagues with their enquiries”.


The public inquiry

The government has announced a review into a series of deaths at the centre after calls for a public inquiry.

But the investigation offers no confidence, a mother of one of the people who died under its care has said.

Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew died at the Linden Centre aged 20 after being detained in November 2012 under the Mental Health Act, says the independent review will be lacking teeth without any power to bring new evidence to light.

The government has said health minister Nadine Dorries intends to commission an independent review over “failures in care” between 2008 and 2015 at the centre.

Melanie has been campaigning for a statutory public inquiry for eight years

Instead Mrs Leahy wants full disclosure, with the inquiry having the powers to force people to take the stand under oath.

Since Mrs Leahy launched her campaign for a public inquiry earlier this year, a total of 48 families have come forward to tell their stories of patient abuse – including claims of rape and patients being set on fire – suffered under the care of psychiatric services across Essex.

Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors, the London-based social justice law firm, is leading the legal campaign for a public inquiry with Mrs Leahy.

Matthew Leahy died seven days after being admitted to the Linden Centre in Chelmsford (Image: Ricci Fothergill/RMC)

Nina Ali, partner at Hodge Jones and Allen, said: “Let me be very clear – there is evidence of ongoing exploitation and abuse within Essex mental health services which have led to unexplained deaths, people taking their own lives, and injured parties traumatised for life.”

Priya Singh, associate at Hodge Jones and Allen, added: “There have been investigations in the past, but they have been piecemeal and fragmented – the system has not changed one bit.

“We are pushing for a public inquiry because it’s our firm belief that only with the combined voices of these families will those responsible be held to account.”

Mrs Leahy’s letter comes as the Health and Safety Executive, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, launches its own prosecution against the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust – formed of a merger between North Essex Partnership Trust (NEP) and South Essex Partnership Trust (SEPT) in 2017 – for how NEP managed environmental risks from fixed potential ligature points in its inpatient wards between October 25, 2004 and March 31, 2015.

Credit Piers Meyler

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