#JusticeforCol: Support Our Judicial Review

by Andy McCulloch

#JusticeforCol: Support Our Judicial Review

by Andy McCulloch
Andy McCulloch
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 28th May 2018
£3,165
pledged by 112 people
Andy McCulloch
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: June 10, 2018

Campaign victory

Hi All,


Events over the last two weeks have led to Coroner Pears recusing himself (standing down) from Colette's Inquest. His lawyers have admitted that he showed bias against us as the bereaved...

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Firstly, we want to thank our amazing supporters for the success of the first campaign. We started our appeal on the 6th November last year. Six months ago. Since then you’ve raised over fourteen thousand pounds to help get "Justice For Colette". 

Through your generosity, we’ve been able to hire a brilliant human rights legal team. They’ve made enormous progress in exposing the hidden facts about what went wrong in Colette's care leading to her avoidable death. Thank you all for giving us the resources to enable our lawyers to do this vital work.

Now we have to move onto the next phase: we have been forced to bring a Judicial Review against the Coroner in Collette's case. 


#JusticeforCol: Why a Judicial Review?  

For reasons that are impossible to fathom, our Coroner is obstructing our search for justice at every turn. He continued to try and dismiss Colette's death as being a simple road traffic accident. He opposed us having an Article 2 (Human Rights) Inquest, without which you cannot apply for legal aid. Only after we sent him our first “Letter Before Action” last October, threatening Judicial Review, did he grudgingly grant that Article 2 was engaged. He has since delayed on making every decision. It is now nearly 2 years since Colette died and it took him eight weeks to read our last letter to him. His eventual response was rude and dismissive. He arbitrarily cancelled our third PIR scheduled for the 24th May. He did this without warning proposing another date. None of the other interested parties could attend on that date but he blamed us totally for saying that we couldn’t either.

He is clearly showing bias against us. 

We feel that we have reached the end of the road with Coroner Pears and following legal advice, have sent a him a second Pre-Action letter on Friday 4th May asking him to stand down from the Inquest or we will take him to Judicial Review.

Given the Coroner’s treatment of us, and our legal team, there is no way we will get a “full and fearless investigation” of Colette’s death from him. It is frankly a disgrace that the only way a bereaved family can try to establish the truth of how their child died, is by going to court in an adversarial manner.


Support our Judicial Review: #JusticeforCol

At present we have raised  £14,220. If we can raise £10,000 more we will almost have reached our original stretch target. This will allow us to pay for the JR. We do have some legal aid funding but that can only be used for the Inquest itself, not the JR. 

This campaign has ramifications well beyond Colette’s tragic death. The Lancet has reported that women on the Autistic Spectrum die on average 29 years younger than Neuro typical women. Colette was one of them but there are many, many others whose deaths have not been properly investigated.

That is why we are coming to you asking you to support our campaign for justice. That is why we are going to the press and media in order to raise awareness. Coroners are frequently obstructing, delaying and preventing full and fearless investigations into the avoidable deaths of vulnerable young people. 

If we can get through to a wider audience, no matter how small the donation, you will help us continue this fight. Colette’s untimely death may help other families avoid similar tragedies in the future. 

Justice cannot and must not be purely for the rich.  

Thank you Andy & Amanda McCulloch 



Background to the case

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.

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.

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Update 1

Andy McCulloch

June 10, 2018

Campaign victory

Hi All,


Events over the last two weeks have led to Coroner Pears recusing himself (standing down) from Colette's Inquest. His lawyers have admitted that he showed bias against us as the bereaved family of Colette. 

Now a new Coroner is being appointed and we hope to move forward to a Pre Inquest Review where scope etc will be decided. So our appeal has been wound up. The money we have raised should cover most of the costs incurred in preparing for the Judicial Review that we were going to take him to. This work had to be done or he would not have taken us seriously.


So thank you all for your extraordinary generosity and your support throughout the eighteen months of our struggle. We would never have been able to do this without your help. So we go onto the next stage in our bid to get #JusticeforCol The Inquest will be tough but now we  have an Article Two Inquest we will at least have some legal aid to see us through.


I will come back to you over the coming months to let you know how things are going. But not I hope in a Crowdfunding capacity! 


Once again many thanks


Andy & Amanda

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