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Upper Clapton man killed himself months after refusing help from mental health services and being discharged, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 10:33 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:09 28 November 2018

A general view of Harrington Hill by the River Lea in Upper Clapton. Picture: Google Earth

A general view of Harrington Hill by the River Lea in Upper Clapton. Picture: Google Earth

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A 20-year-old killed himself after his family had urged professionals to take action over his mental health, and neighbours had raised concerns with Hackney Council, an inquest heard on Friday.

Poplar Coroner's Court.Poplar Coroner's Court.

Assistant coroner Heather Williams told the hearing at Poplar Coroner’s Court how Kamil Seroka was found dead at his home in Harrington Hill, Upper Clapton, by his father Zbigniew Seroka and his mother on July 10 this year.

Reading written evidence from Kamil’s GP, Dr Geraldine Kiela from Spring Hill Practice in Stamford Hill, Ms Williams said the younger man’s father had contacted Dr Kiela several times about his mental health, including psychotic episodes. His son, who according to the GP had learning difficulties, was becoming increasingly aggressive and threatened his parents, it was said.

Dr Kiela said in her statement: “He [Kamil] had become regularly aggressive and he was worried about him and his wife. He said Kamil was hearing voices and talking to them, and he was shouting to himself in his room.

“I spoke to Kamil by phone, and he asked for some sleeping tablets, so I asked him to make a face-to-face appointment, and I thought this might be a good trigger for him to come and see me.”

When he eventually visited Dr Kiela in June, the court heard, he was anxious about the possibility of contracting HIV, and was drinking a bottle of wine every other day. He told her he often argued with his parents because they wanted him to stay indoors. “I had hoped this could be the start of him getting help,” she said.

His father was also worried about sudden changes in his son’s behaviour. In his written statement to the court, he said the younger man was agitated and played loud music, and the older Mr Seroka believed Kamil was taking drugs under the influence of a new girlfriend – putting him at risk of eviction from his flat.

A private psychiatrist’s report on Kamil by Robert Wojciechowski, based on conversations with his father around his son’s behaviour and one phone call with the 20-year-old, found him to have delusions and psychotic episodes.

The report was passed on to Dr Kiela shortly before Kamil’s death.

During the hearing, it emerged that Kamil had been referred several times to mental health support workers at the East London Foundation NHS Trust. A week before one support worker visited his home on February 26, he had been taken to hospital after smashing his TV and cutting his arm during an episode.

Giving evidence to the hearing, Soji Ogunbola said Kamil didn’t want to engage with him or the mental health service. “When I visited on February 26 he said he didn’t want to see us and went back to his bedroom. We went to the front room where his mother was and we tried to talk with her.

“Initially she ignored us and continued to do her chores. She eventually communicated with us but didn’t give us any information about his mental state despite our questions. When I mentioned the visit to A&E, she didn’t like us asking. We tried to speak further to Kamil, but he didn’t want to and carried on playing on his computer.”

But Mr Ogunbola told the hearing that he didn’t find anything during the visit to suggest that Kamil was “not well”.

Mr Ogunbola then said he took the decision to “discharge” Kamil from the mental health service and advised him to contact Hackney’s Off Centre organisation.

Ms Williams asked him whether this was appropriate as his GP, and he himself, had said Kamil was “reluctant to engage”. He said: “When I saw him on February 26 there was nothing to indicate that he was unwell, and a danger to himself or others.”

A toxicology report found that when he died, he had 223mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, two-and-a-half times the drink drive limit. Ms Williams read out the post mortem results which found Kamil had died as a result of hanging himself.

In a written statement towards the end of the hearing, Kamil’s sister-in-law Agnieszka Purwin said, in the weeks before his death, he had said a woman had been poisoning him, and she suspected he was killed by a gang. She said she had received a threatening phone call since his death. The incident has been passed on to police.

In a session peppered with questions by the grieving father, speaking through a Polish interpreter, it emerged the family hadn’t had access to all copies of written evidence. Ms Williams has adjourned the inquest until November 27 for the family to see the evidence that will be presented.

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