Sunderland coroner overseeing Joan Hoggett's inquest to raise concerns about mental health services

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A coroner investigating the death of Sunderland grandmother Joan Hoggett, is to raise concerns at the highest level about capacity in mental health services, after she was stabbed to death by a teenager suffering from schizophrenia.

The 62-year-old shop worker was killed in a frenzied attack in 2018 at the One Stop Shop in Fulwell, Sunderland.

Ethan Mountain, then 19, had been released from hospital a year previously, suffering from psychosis.

When he reduced his medication a few months later he was supposed to be monitored more closely by health teams.

Yet between April 2018 and September, when he killed Mrs Hoggett, he was not seen by any health professionals.

A week before the attack he stopped his anti-psychosis medication completely – but told no-one.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing after an inquest into the death concluded today, Derek Winter, the senior coroner for Sunderland, said he would be writing to the health secretary to raise concerns. 

He said: “There was a passive rather than a proactive approach to the healthcare and treatment of Ethan Mountain.

“(He)became invisible to the services that he could have tapped into.

“There was a rich seam of information available from his mother who he lived with.

“In my view the Trust were too ready to put her concerns about him being depressed, his medications, his drinking, her fear of relapse, down to her hypervigilance.

“No-one can say what might have happened if the opportunities that existed had been taken,” he said.

A spokesman from the Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust said: “The tragedy of Joan's death has had a significant impact on the team, the service and what we do as an organisation.

"We have been determined to learn lessons and improve services. The organisation has made substantial changes following the incident.”

But his family said more needed to be done.

Speaking on their behalf, solicitor Sarah Hepple said: “We hope it will make the mental health trust change their system, so nobody else has to go through what our family has gone through.

“Our mam was an amazing woman. We all miss her so much and unfortunately we will never get that back.

“Christmas and birthdays will never be the same because of the actions of Ethan Mountain.”