Medics thought ill mum's love for tragic son would help him

A mum's obvious love for her teenage son was seen as a key driver in bringing him home to her after he'd spent a year in psychiatric care.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 10:25 am
Marshall Metcalfe with his mum and sisters

A mum’s obvious love for her teenage son was seen as a key driver in bringing him home to her after he’d spent a year in psychiatric care.

Psychiatrists at The Cove unit believed Jane Ireland was able to look after Marshall Metcalfe and make sure he took his antipsychotic medication, Clozapine, after she created a favourable impression at meetings.

But tragically Marshall’s mother was suffering from severe mental health problems herself, including hearing voices, which she attempted to hide from some of the professionals, including staff at The Cove.

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Four months after Marshall was discharged back into her care on January 6 2020, he took his own life on May 7 - and just a month later grief-stricken Ms Ireland had taken her life as well.

An inquest at Blackpool Coroners Court into their deaths heard that a rapid deterioration in Marshall’s mental health by June and July 2019 was considered by staff at The Cove to be linked to his switch to the drug Risperidone.

But other professionals considered another cause - that there was a link between his worrying behaviour, which included incidents of him rolling on the floor, making grunting noises and smearing the walls of his room with food, as following periods of home leave with his mother.

At that time Ms Ireland had been discharged from the care of the Early Intervention Service and was hearing voices, but not all the professionals were aware of that.

Dr Louisa Draper, a children and adolescent psychiatrist called as an independent witness, was asked if Marshall’s behaviour would be seen as a decline compared to how he had

been prior to home visits starting.

She agreed it would be seen as a deterioration.

Dr Draper was asked if, in her opinion, a parent’s love and willingness to care for their child was a key factor to consider in the capacity of parenting.

She said it wasn’t, in the context of Marshall’s case.

Asked what the professionals dealing with him should have done, she said: “Interpreted his mental health decline as either his medication or that home leave may have been an issue.”

However, staff at The Cove changed his medication to Clozapine and home leave continued until his mother eventually asked them to stop , as he wasn’t well enough.

The inquiry heard that Marshall’s older sister Holly had raised concerns about the mental health of their mum and its possible effect on Marshall’s decline. However, her efforts to be included in consultations about Marshall when she temporarily moved abroad to Australia were not met because it was considered that contact by email would be a breach of data protection.

Asked if she agreed with that assessment, Ms Draper said it would not be if Marshall and his mother consented.