Joshua Gafney's family 'won't rest until we have answers over death'
The family of a Yeovil man who died after a fatal overdose say they have been left shattered by a decision not to prosecute two nurses.
Today, the Western Gazette can reveal no charges have been brought against mental health nurses Amanda Young and Petia Gummer following the death of Joshua Gafney last year.
The 22-year-old, who was being treated for mental illness psychosis and was being given the drug clozapine, died at his home in Westfield Avenue on February 8, 2012, shortly after being visited by the pair who work out of the Summerlands Hospital site in Preston Road.
A post mortem examination and toxicology report seen by the Western Gazette found the cause of Mr Gafney’s death was “acute clozapine toxicity”.
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The report says Mr Gafney was given six full bottles of the drug – equal to 4,200mg (84ml).
The prescribed dosage was 200mg (4ml).
Miss Young and Mrs Gummer were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but have now been released from their bail and no charges will be brought.
This week, Joshua’s distraught mother Tina Marren told the Western Gazette she was devastated.
She said: “Mine and my daughter Jasmine’s lives are in such a mess over all of this. We will never be able to cope with life until our questions are answered.
“My son was my life and that was taken away.
“I will never give up until I get answers for Joshua.
“He was a wonderful, lovely person. My heart has been broken so much that I do not feel I have one anymore.
“I feel the authorities are treating Joshua as if he was not important.
“As a family we are so angered, hurt, and devastated.
“The most horrible thing in the world is losing a son or daughter. Parents are supposed to go before their children.
“People say it gets easier. It doesn’t.
“I will never get over losing Joshua. I will take my tears and broken heart to my grave.”
The nurses have been suspended by their employer Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and are subject to separate investigations by the trust and regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Joshua’s aunt Lorraine Marren said one of the difficulties the family faced were rumours sweeping the town that her sister and niece had been involved in her nephew’s death while others thought he had committed suicide.
She said: “We as a family are not allowed to say everything we would like to say about what happened to Joshua as this could still jeopardise the ongoing investigations.
“This has had a profound effect on us all.
“The case now lies in the hands of our solicitor and the coroner. Our solicitor will now build a case and present it to the Coroner’s Court.
“We will not give up fighting for answers. Josh was just 22 and he had a bright future and his whole life ahead of him only to have this so unfairly snatched away from him.
“We will not give up fighting until the whole story is out – not only for Joshua but for every other family out there who need to be aware of this terrible tragedy.”
Miss Young and Mrs Gummer have had restrictions placed on them by the NMC while investigations take place.
A report of a condition of practice hearing into Miss Young and published by the NMC said: “The panel is concerned that this is an extremely serious allegation and find that there would be some risk of repetition if no order were in place. Accordingly there would be a real risk of significant harm to the public were Miss Young allowed to continue to practise without restriction.”
A report of Mrs Gummer’s hearing said: “The panel noted that Mrs Gummer denies the allegations. However, having considered the serious nature of the allegations, which involved a gross inaccuracy in drug administration, the panel considered that there is a real risk of repetition of the alleged behaviour should Mrs Gummer continue to practise without restriction.”
A Nursing and Midwifery Council spokeswoman said: “Our investigation will continue. The next stage is to go to an investigating panel who will decide if there is a case to answer. If this is the case there will be a substantive hearing by the conduct and competence committee.”
A spokesman for the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust would like to express its sincere condolences to Joshua’s family.
“The nurses involved in the incident remain suspended from work.
“Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust always reports serious issues relating to the safety of patients or concerns about professional standards or conduct to the appropriate professional body, in line with trust policies and national guidelines.
“It is the trust’s intention to bring the actions of the nurses involved in this incident to the attention of their professional body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
“Now that the Avon and Somerset Police have completed their investigation and the Crown Prosecution Service have concluded that they will not be seeking to bring a prosecution against the nurses involved, the trust will continue to conduct its own internal investigation.
“The findings of this investigation will be shared with Joshua’s family, the national inspectorate – the Care Quality Commission and the local Primary Care Trust.
“The circumstances of Joshua Gafney’s death will be subject to a coroner’s inquest. The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust therefore wishes to await the presentation of the evidence and full facts before adding further comment.”
An Avon and Somerset Constabulary spokesman said: “We received extensive advice from the Crown Prosecution Service on this matter and we were guided to the fact that we would not succeed in a prosecution in this case.”
A spokeswoman from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The CPS received material from the police in relation to the matter and provided them with early advice on their investigation. We did not, however, receive a full file of evidence in this case.
“The decision to take no further action was made by the police. Our thoughts remain with Joshua’s family.”
An inquest has been opened and adjourned by East Somerset Coroner Tony Williams. It is due to be reconvened later this year but no date has yet been set.
The Western Gazette invited both nurses to comment via the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust but both declined.