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Trust apology given to bi-polar Hackney man given ‘indefinite’ prison sentence

PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 July 2013

Linda Morgan, Joe Paraskeva's mother

Linda Morgan, Joe Paraskeva's mother

CARMEN VALINO ALL RIGHTS

An NHS boss is said to have apologised to the family of a bipolar man jailed indefinitely after a senior consultant said he was not mentally ill.

Joe Paraskeva, 22, of Stoke Newington, was sent to prison in 2010 for an “indefinite” term after he set fire to a door in a psychiatric ward using an aerosol and a cigarette lighter.

Despite having a history of mental health problems, Mr Paraskeva was jailed and sent to a normal prison where he received no mental health treatment.

His mother, Linda Morgan, has long campaigned for him to be treated as a patient rather than a criminal, and in December the Court of Appeal quashed his open-ended sentence.

The East London NHS Foundation Trust launched an investigation and have admitted there were “issues” around Mr Paraskeva’s assessment. Chief executive Dr Robert Dolan then met the family in June where it is claimed he made the apology.

Ms Morgan, 58, of Stoke Newington, said: “The chief executive apologised to the family and said mistakes had been made. Joe has been very pleased to hear he has received an apology.

“I’ve had a mixed reaction. It was quite gratifying to be vindicated after fighting for Joe and to know all the people supporting us were right.

“I feel angry too that this could have happened. A lot was invested when Joe was first diagnosed and there seems to have been no continuity of care between his first and second mental health crisis.

“I don’t know what safeguards are in place to stop what happened to Joe from happening again.

“There are other people who have ended up in prison because of incorrect diagnoses. I would like to know how many people like Joe this has happened to.”

A spokesman for the trust said they couldn’t go into details due to confidentiality issues, but said: “We can confirm Ms Morgan’s complaint was the subject of a formal and thorough investigation.

“The investigation revealed some issues around an initial assessment and action has since been taken to address them. Our chief executive, Dr Robert Dolan has responded personally to the family.”

Mrs Morgan has vowed to continue campaigning to overturn Joe’s criminal conviction for arson, saying: “The campaign will continue as Joe still has a conviction.”

n For more information, visit www.justiceforjoe.org.uk

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