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Guildford Teen ‘Went to M&S to Buy Birthday Present’ Before Ending His Life

Published on: 26 May, 2022
Updated on: 28 May, 2022

Daniel Mattin, of Guildford, was 19 when he died. Photo supplied by family.

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

A Guildford teenager who was let out of a secure mental health unit by a trainee nurse by mistake did not leave with the intention of killing himself, his psychiatrist has said.

Daniel Mattin left Farnham Road Hospital around midday and did not jump from a building until four-and-a-half hours later.

It is thought he first headed to M&S to buy a fellow inpatient a birthday present.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Khalid Mirza, giving evidence at Daniel’s inquest on Wednesday (May 25), said: “After his section was taken off he didn’t go out or ask to go out, so I don’t know what was really the case on that day and whether he really went out with the intention of killing himself.

“It appears he did go there and buy something.

“I assume he went out there with the intention of coming back to the ward, and then he drank.

“There was a clear connection between alcohol and his suicidal thoughts.”

He said Daniel’s alcohol level was quite high and that can lower inhibitions, make people impulsive and make any suicidal thoughts more intense.

Daniel’s friend had told the doctor he was going to kill himself when he got out, though Daniel denied this.

Coroner Darren Stewart asked Dr Mirza: “Did the thought ‘why was he allowed out’ pass your mind?”

“Yes, that was the first thing that came to my mind,” he replied.

Before leaving the hospital on June 4 last year, which was a Friday, Dr Mirza reminded the nurse in charge on Daniel’s ward that he should not go out on leave.

If he insisted, Section 5(4) of the Mental Health Act should have been used to keep him there, he said.

“As I was leaving the board at 12 o’clock I had this on my mind,” he told the court. “We missed it in the SBAR [Situation Background Assessment Recommendation]. It wasn’t mentioned.”

The coroner commented that seemed “a very significant omission from the SBAR”. The SBAR is a tool used by healthcare staff to share information on a patient.

Dr Mirza was asked if Daniel had approached him asking to go out, would he have exercised his Section 5 (2) powers to detain him?

“I don’t know,” was the reply. “I think I would have been able to convince him to stay and I think he would have agreed.

“I didn’t find him a difficult patient who would argue. My feelings are, I cannot be 100 per cent sure, we might have convinced him.”

Daniel had been detained but his sectioning had ended five days earlier so he was there voluntarily as an ‘informal’ patient.

When Dr Mirza asked him two days earlier if he intended to kill himself, he said: “If that was the case I’m an informal and I would’ve already done it.”

He said he had been shocked to learn what Daniel did. “We thought there was a risk but we were not anticipating something like that immediately.

“He had these ongoing thoughts for years, since he was eight or nine. He had attempted, but he had also sought help so I felt there was an ambivalence.”

Daniel raised no objections when told he shouldn’t leave the ward, the court heard.

“You always have to consider the least restrictive options,” said Dr Mirza.

“A person who has agreed to stay in hospital and take medication doesn’t provide justification for a Section 3 [to admit to hospital for treatment] so at the time we didn’t go down that route.”

Daniel, who was still in the process of being diagnosed at the hospital managed by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, was “very well-informed about psychology” and “found it easy to manipulate people”, the doctor told the coroner.

But he said it was “very difficult to put on an act all the time” and Daniel “wasn’t presenting with apparent distress on the ward. He was chatting and engaging with activities”.

Daniel had told an assistant psychologist: “I’m just fed up that I’m better than everyone else here” and said “she should be more confident in her job”.

He told her: “How does it make you feel to know that I would be better at your job than you are?”

The inquest continues.

Anyone experiencing problems relating to issues mentioned in this story can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123.

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