Inquest opens into self-inflicted death of man with autism, Billie Lord, who absconded whilst an inpatient

Friday 26 October 2018

The family is represented by Paul Clark of Garden Court Chambers, INQUEST Lawyers Group members and Fleur Hallett of McMillan William Solicitors.

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Billie Lord died aged 26 after absconding from the Campbell Centre in Milton Keynes, where he was a voluntary inpatient who was de facto detained, on 11 July 2017. His death was self-inflicted, having been hit by a train on nearby railway tracks. The inquest into his death opens on Tuesday 23 October.

Billie was diagnosed with autism as a child and had selective mutism. His family said he enjoyed collecting jewellery and had a great sense of humour. He was also very intelligent, becoming a member of Mensa aged 11 with an IQ of 171.

At end of June 2017 Billie's parents took him to Bedford Accident and Emergency Department. He was experiencing delusions and they were concerned about his mental state. He was subsequently referred to the Home Treatment Team on 1 July 2017.

Initially Billie showed signs of improvement however on 9 July his mental health deteriorated significantly and he was admitted to the Campbell Centre as a voluntary patient. This was his first admission to a mental health unit.

On the evening of 9 July, Billie attempted to abscond from the unit through a window but was stopped by staff. He was moved from a single room to a dormitory. On 11 July Billie tried to abscond again through a window and this time he was successful. Several hours later Billie made his way to nearby railway tracks where he was hit by a train.

Billie’s family hope the inquest will address the following issues:

  • Whether reasonable adjustments were made for Billie’s autism.
  • What was done to explore Billie’s reasons for wanting to escape after his first attempt.
  • The adequacy of the treatment Billie received including the level and quality of observations.

Fay Lord, Billie’s mother said: We entrusted Billie’s care and safety to the staff at the Campbell Centre when we felt unable to keep him safe at home. We are concerned that staff did not make reasonable adjustments to take account of Billie’s autism and explore with him the reasons behind his first attempt to abscond. Nor were we informed that he had attempted to leave. We are extremely alarmed that Billie was able to escape from what we thought was a secure unit”.

This inquest has received media coverage in the BBC.

Paul Clark is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Inquests and Inquiries Team.


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