A coroner has called for an internal police probe into the investigation of a mental health patient’s unexpected death.
Caroline Beasley-Murray complained to Essex Police’s professional standards department after an inquest into the death of Lee Usselman, 55, who was found dead at his Canvey home.It seems the police didn’t see any suspicious circumstances, and Ms Beasley-Murray thinks they didn’t look very hard (which, to give her her due, they do have a bit of form for, after all).
Mrs Beasley-Murray recorded an open verdict, saying there was not enough evidence that Mr Usselman of Harvest Road took his own life, or that he died following an accidental overdose. She was critical of Essex Police’s investigation of the death.It seems Ms Beasley-Murray might have watched one too many courtroom dramas.
Mrs Beasley-Murray heard PC Rachel Moss had single-handedly investigated the death, before deciding there were no suspicious circumstances. Cross examining the officer, she asked: “You were on you’re (sic) own, you did not inform an inspector?”
PC Moss said she did not because “there were no suspicious circumstances”. Mrs Beasley-Murray added: “You should have,” but the PC insisted it was policy not to inform an inspector unless there were suspicious circumstances.
The coroner added: “Did you not want confirmation from the inspector? Did you take any photos or request any other police attend? You had no back-up from anyone else?
“You keep quoting force policy, but I know the force policy too.”
PC Moss replied: “No there were no photos and no back up.”That must have been almost as entertaining as the classic scene in ‘A Few Good Men’.
Mrs Beasley-Murray said: “Were there any empty blister packs? Did you photograph them? Anything else noteworthy? You have not got a photographic record.”
PC Moss said: “I spoke to Susan Usselman, his wife.
“He had been in hospital and depressed and had previously tried to overdose. He was on restricted medication.
“I checked his pocket. There was no note. In his wallet was a piece of paper, but it was not significant.
“There was an empty beer bottle by the bed. There was nothing at the time to suggest suspicious circumstances.”
Medical records show Mr Usselman had a history of selfharm and taking overdoses, depression and alcohol problems.It would seem that it wouldn’t take Columbo to solve this one. So…why the fuss?
Mrs Beasley-Murray said: “I am not sure he formed the intention and took a deliberate act to take his own life.
“The court has also considered if it was an accident, that he took the tablets and drink deliberately and did not expect it to turn out like that, but there is also not sufficient evidence to record it as an accident.
“I am going to record an open verdict.”Which seems rather perverse, though I can appreciate the natural desire to do all one can for the surviving family.