Inquest into the Death of Priscilla Fay STEPHENSON
Delivered on: 2 September 2015
Delivered at: Perth
Finding of: Coroner Linton
Suppression Order: N/A
Summary: The deceased had a long history of mental health and drug-related issues. At the time of her death on 20 November 2012 she was an involuntary patient within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1996 (WA) and was subject to a community treatment order under the provisions of that Act. By virtue of her status as an involuntary patient the deceased came within the definition of a ‘person held in care’ under section 3 of the Coroners Act 1996 (WA). Pursuant to section 22(1)(a) of the Coroners Act an inquest was, therefore, mandatory.
The primary focus of the inquest was on the circumstances of the deceased’s death and the appropriateness of the decision to release her on a community treatment order shortly prior to her death.
The Coroner found on the available information that the deceased had successfully completed community treatment orders in the past and given the length of time she had already been detained, the noted improvement in her condition, and the need to offer treatment in the least restrictive setting, she was satisfied it was reasonable and appropriate to release the deceased on the order.
The Coroner found that despite the support and care of her partner in her later years the deceased frequently succumbed to drug abuse, which precipitated or compounded deterioration in her mental health. This led to numerous hospital admissions and ongoing outpatient care in the community.
On her last admission to hospital the deceased was initially very unwell and was housed in a locked ward. As the effects of the illicit drugs on her system diminished and prescription medications took effect, her condition gradually improved. She was released on a community order on 20 November 2012, with the opinion of those who knew her that she was in the best state she had ever been. Unfortunately, she purchased and used heroin that night and the combination of the heroin with her prescription drugs led to her death.
Catch Words : Death of a person held in care : Community Treatment Order : Long standing mental health and drug-related issues : Accident
Last updated: 10-Sep-2015
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