Odessa Carey: Agencies failed to recognise dangers posed, review finds

Odessa Carey was killed by her daughter, also Odessa Carey, in April 2019. Credit: Family

Multiple agencies failed to recognise the danger posed by a woman who killed and decapitated her mother, a review has found.

Odessa Carey killed her 73-year-old mother, also called Odessa Carey, in Ashington, Northumberland, in April 2019.

Following the death, the younger Ms Carey, then aged 35, was sentenced to a hospital order.

A joint domestic homicide review and independent mental health homicide review have been carried out to see what lessons can be learned, and has published a series of findings and recommendations.

At the time of the killing, Carey was a patient of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, now Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

The investigation found there had been missed opportunities by health care services and other agencies.

Carey had a long history of mental health issues and the review outlined a background of violence.

However, the risk she posed was not properly considered and there were “many signs” that Mrs Carey was at risk from her daughter, the report said.

The review found Mrs Carey was not heard when she said she was frightened and needed help.

The review also found there had been no domestic abuse support provided for Mrs Carey by CNTW, and she had not been routinely involved in review meetings about her care.

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said it accepted the recommendations and had made “substantial changes and improvements”.

There were also missed opportunities by Northumbria Police to classify Mrs Carey as a victim of domestic abuse and by Northumberland County Council to have her assessed by social workers.

The report highlighted a lack of communication between police, social and health workers.

Mrs Carey’s family said they “had been failed” by the system.

In a statement, they said: "As a family we have sadly lost our mam who was a great caring loving woman who would go out her way to help anyone.

“But she was brutally and violently killed and  taken from us by our younger sister who has suffered from mental illness issues for a number of years. But she also took our mam away from her sisters, brothers,  nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and friends.  

“We as a family believe that the healthcare system had failed us and our sister as well as our mam.  

“Therefore, we believe that there should be better communications and reports and notes between various NHS services, ie GPs, Hospitals, CPNs and other caseworkers.

“And better structures for the understanding of the patient and their families. Hopefully learning from these mistakes for it not to happen again.”

Rajesh Nadkarni, executive medical director at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to the victim’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.

“The impact of this tragedy has been felt throughout our whole organisation.  Nothing can ever ease the pain for those who knew her, but we are determined that lessons are learned, and services are improved.

"We fully accept and welcome the recommendations in this report. We have already made substantial changes and improvements, however, we are not complacent.  We will study the findings in this report and take decisive action to ensure that we will do everything we need to improve our services for those who need us.”

An NHS England North East and Yorkshire spokesperson, said: “We commission independent investigations to identify areas for improvement and will work with partner organisations where statutory processes overlap to ensure recommendations are addressed and shared with the wider mental health system.” 

A North East and North Cumbria ICB Spokesperson, said: “Firstly, our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Mrs C during this difficult time.  Clearly, there are lessons to learn and we will work to ensure the recommendations made are actioned accordingly.” 

Councillor Gordon Stewart, Safer Northumberland Partnership chairman, said: “First and foremost our thoughts remain with the victim’s family and friends following this extremely distressing case. 

“The partnership is committed to ensuring that the safety and protection of our communities in Northumberland is a priority. 

“It is very important that reviews are carried out following cases like this to establish what, if anything, can be learned for the future.

“The review produced a number of recommendations – both for individual agencies and more generally. 

“For the county council all these have been accepted and are now being progressed.” 

Chief Supt Deborah Alderson, head of safeguarding at Northumbria Police, said: “Our thoughts very much continue to be with the victim’s family following this tragic case.

“We are committed to taking forward learning identified within the review and already have additional training in place to strengthen officers’ understanding around identifying vulnerability.

“As a force, protecting the vulnerable is our number one priority and we will continue to work with our partners to build on the work under way to safeguard our communities.”