The Health Service Executive (HSE) Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services has admitted in the High Court that there were “deficiencies” in the care given to the attacker of a Sligo young man who died after being attacked at his home.
Jimmy Loughlin, 20, was killed at his rented home in Connolly Street, Sligo, on February 24, 2018 when stranger Richard McLaughlin attacked him with a crowbar.
In July 2019, Mr McLaughlin, 35, with an address at The Laurels, Woodtown Lodge, Sligo, was found not guilty in Central Criminal Court of insanity in the murder of Mr Loughlin.
Before the High Court on Tuesday, a representative of the clinical and management team at HSE Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services issued a “sincere and unreserved apology” to Mr Loughlin’s parents for the “breaches of duty in the care provided” which it acknowledged and led assumptions to “unspeakable annoyance, hardship and harm” for her and her family.
The service wanted to “acknowledge the deficiencies in the care of Jimmy’s attacker, Richard McLoughlin, as highlighted in the inquest into Jimmy’s death, along with the jury’s wrongful death verdict.”
Mr Loughlin’s parents, Michael and Paula Loughlin of Ballintogher, are suing the HSE over the care provided prior to the unprovoked fatal attack on their only son while he was preparing for work on February 24, 2018.
Their solicitor, Eoin McCullough SC, who was retained by Damien Tansey SC of Damien Tansey Solicitors, told the High Court that the Loughlins v HSE case had been settled.
Mr Judge Paul Coffey expressed his “deepest condolences” to Mr and Mrs Loughlin.
Outside the Four Courts, Mr and Mc Loughlin said in a statement that the HSE should “hang its head in shame” today.
“The day our son Jimmy died five years ago, all of our lives ended. To add insult to injury, the coroner’s inquest found he was unlawfully killed and found deficiencies in the HSE’s treatment of Jimmy’s attacker,” they said.
Jimmy is a “son who was promised so much and yet everything was taken,” they said, adding, “Unfortunately, no excuse will bring our son back to his loving family now.”
Mr Loughlin’s May 2022 inquest found that a consultant forensic psychiatrist at Central Mental Hospital determined that Mr McLaughlin was schizophrenic and had started drinking and smoking cannabis at the age of 11 or 12 and had given it up years before.
The inquest jury returned a wrongful death verdict, finding that Mr Loughlin had died from traumatic head injuries from the attack.
In their High Court action for damages for personal injury suffered, the Loughlins alleged that the attacker was a patient of the defendants and was known to them to have a history of mental illness and violent tendencies.
Mr McLaughlin has long been known to and/or in the care of the HSE, they alleged. He was first referred to the adult psychiatric facility in 2008 and has since been re-referred multiple times for paranoid ideation, paranoid schizophrenia and drug-induced psychosis, they claimed.
The HSE, the Loughlins claimed, was aware “at all times” that Mr McLaughlin had an ongoing history of episodes of violent behavior.
There was a failure, failure and/or failure to take reasonable steps to avoid the “real and present risk” to people living near Mr McLaughlin, they alleged.
The attacker regularly missed scheduled appointments and stopped taking medication for his mental illness, they claimed. The HSE failed to keep him in their care despite knowing or realizing he was acting suspicious and paranoid, they claimed.
In this case, liability was at issue.
https://www.irishtimes.com/crime-law/courts/2023/03/07/hse-acknowledges-shortcomings-in-care-of-assailant-of-sligo-man-20-who-died-after-crowbar-attack/ HSE admits ‘deficiencies’ in care for Sligo’s attacker, 20, who died after crowbar attack – The Irish Times