Justice For Colette

by Andrew McCulloch

Justice For Colette

by Andrew McCulloch
Andrew McCulloch
Case Owner
Our daughter Colette was high functioning autistic. Her death in care was completely unnecessary and devastating. We are now fighting for a full, open Inquest which is presently being denied us.
Funded
on 13th November 2017
£14,230
pledged of £25,000 stretch target from 248 pledges
Andrew McCulloch
Case Owner
Our daughter Colette was high functioning autistic. Her death in care was completely unnecessary and devastating. We are now fighting for a full, open Inquest which is presently being denied us.

Latest: May 9, 2018

We are now fundraising for a Judicial Review please visit our new page

Thanks so much for you support so far. 

We are now raising funds for our Judicial Review. 

Please visit our new page at: www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-colette2

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HOW DID SHE DIE

Colette was run over and killed on the A1 dual carriageway, at 2.30 am, walking back to her care home.  She'd been placed there due to her deteriorating mental health. The clinic, which specialises in  autism, assessed her and said they could treat her. In the event they were incapable of even keeping her safe. Her behaviour became self destructive, self harming and dangerous, leading to her death. The Coroner is limiting the scope of the Inquest to such an extent that we will not be able to establish whether failings in her care caused or contributed to Colette ending up walking on the A1 at 2.30 in the morning. So we now have to raise funds to pay for a Judicial Review to reverse his decision. Only a full, fair and fearless Inquest will uncover the truth of what happened to our daughter and any failings that may have led to her death.

WHAT WE ARE DOING

We are asking for your support. We need your help to fund the Judicial Review of the Coroner's refusal to fully investigate the circumstances of our daughter's death. It is, in our opinion, unjust that bereaved families like ours, with limited resources, have to pay to get the truth. But as things stand there is no other way. The eventual total costs of this action, including court fees, legal fees etc, are likely to be in the region of £25,000. We are starting with an initial target of £10,000 to get the process underway.

Video © Marc Schlossman 2017

FAILURES IN CARE

Her diagnosis of High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder, aged 33, explained Colette's inability to make relationships and her repeating self destructive patterns. Sussex Partnership NHS referred her to Milton Park, a private clinic near Bedford, specialising in Autism. In the event Milton Park was unable contain her or care for her. Seven months after her admission she was dead. 

The treatment she received was one 45 minute session per week with a psychologist,  and "group therapies" (like how to go shopping) that weren't relevant to her. Depressed and frustrated but not being under a section, she began to stay away from the clinic, for longer and longer periods. Her dangerous behaviour escalated. She self medicated with alcohol. Milton Park attempted to have her assessed under the Mental Health Act with a view to sectioning, for her own safety. But the local NHS Approved Mental Health Service refused to come and assess Colette on four separate occasions. They didn't even meet her.

In June, six weeks before she died, Colette jumped off a bridge into the river. She had to be pulled to safety and taken to A&E. Her psychiatrist at Milton Park described her action as 'being with suicidal intent'. Yet his requests were turned down by the local AMHP service. The AMHP had a row with Colette's psychiatrist on the phone, slamming it down on him twice. Extraordinary behaviour for mental health professionals discussing the safety of a patient. 

CONSEQUENCES

Unable to action an assessment, Milton Park threatened Colette with eviction. They gave her 48 hours to leave, with nowhere to go. They said she would be the responsibility of the Police. This threat caused her anxiety levels to soar. A more appropriate placement was found by Sussex Partnership NHS Trust. Colette agreed to the move. However she became increasingly scared as the day got closer. Autistic people find change very, very difficult. We warned those, caring for her, that she would need a lot of support. But Milton Park seemed unable or unwilling to do anything. The result was, unable to cope with her overwhelming emotions, Colette's behaviour became even more erratic - as we had predicted. 

She was killed in a road traffic accident just a few days before her move to the new clinic. It was not the lorry driver's fault. No one should have been walking on that stretch of dual carriageway. Certainly not at 2.30 in the morning. And certainly not a vulnerable young woman who should have been safe in her care home. Instead she has become yet another young autistic person to die a totally unnecessary death.

WHAT WE ARE RAISING FUNDS TO DO

It is in the public interest that the circumstances of  Colette’s death are fully and fearlessly investigated, to prevent it happening again.

Three investigations by public bodies, including a safeguarding review have identified failings and neglect. We have not been directly involved in these investigations and they have not focused on how the failings contributed to our daughter’s death. We need a full Inquest to establish a proper understanding of how the acts and omissions by those responsible for her care, contributed to this tragedy.  

But the Bedfordshire Coroner refused us this. He said we could not have an Article 2 (Human Rights) Inquest. On 16th October 2017 our solicitor Merry Varney at Leigh Day, sent a "letter before action" to the coroner setting out grounds for a Judicial Review. Since receiving that letter he has given way and agreed that Article 2 in engaged. But he has refused to widen the scope and has refused, so far, to call vital witnesses, including ourselves her parents.  Despite Leigh Day and our barristers at Doughty Street Chambers,  working at very reduced fees, Judicial Review is an expensive process. But it is the only way to expose what went wrong in Colette's care.

We have an initial target of £10,000 to get us underway. 

We are pursuing this not purely to get justice for Colette, but also to try to ensure that preventable deaths, of autistic and other vulnerable young people, don't happen in the future. So we are asking all of you who read this and watch the video, to support us, if you can, with a donation. 

Thank you Andy & Amanda McCulloch 




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Update 1

Andrew McCulloch

May 9, 2018

We are now fundraising for a Judicial Review please visit our new page

Thanks so much for you support so far. 

We are now raising funds for our Judicial Review. 

Please visit our new page at: www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-colette2

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