Jonty murder couldn’t have been prevented by better mental health system

John 'Jonty' Hall.
John 'Jonty' Hall.
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The murder of a dad attacked by a man who had been undergoing mental health treatment for decades could not be prevented, a report has found.

Nicholas Rought, of Princess Street, Shiney Row, was jailed for life in 2014 after denying the murder of John “Jonty’” Hall in the village, with Stuart Smith, of no fixed address, jailed for 15 years for manslaughter.

Nicholas Rought.

Nicholas Rought.

An independent investigation into the care and treatment of dad-of-three Rought has now set out how while the brutal death could not have been predicted or prevented, more efforts should be made to share information between the authorities.

Mr Hall, 46, who was a father to two daughters, was stabbed with a fork and had multiple wounds inflicted to his body, hands, penis and testicles.

A jury concluded Rought, who had been involved in a 20-year feud with his victim, had used a baseball bat to inflict the gruesome injuries, while Smith played a lesser part in the violence.

The body of Mr Hall, of Burn Terrace, was found dumped in West Rainton.

We found that the incident in September 2013 could not have been predicted.

Verita’s report for NHS England

Both men had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice in connection to their efforts to dispose of Mr Hall’s body and clean up the house where the killing happened.

The document details the care given to Rought since 1994, his abuse of drugs and alcohol, his failure to engage with services, how he threatened and intimidated people and could not comply with treatment.

It notes he “could be difficult to manage” and was supported by a care co-ordinator and a community consultant psychiatrist, with his mother his carer.

His clinical records with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, describe a man with long-standing, relapsing psychotic illness, with manic symptoms, who would show a host of features when unwell, including rapid and frenzied speech, threatening behaviour and grandiose and paranoid delusions.

He has claimed he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and said he was abused as a child and young adult, as well as by people who said he owed them money when he was in his 20s, and had spent five periods as an inpatient between 1994 and 2011,

The trained mechanic, who worked for the family roofing firm, but also dealt drugs, had a criminal record before he carried out the murder, including custodial sentences for assault, and charges for carrying a weapon and theft, was diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder and had on occasions, said he had spoken to God, talked about Jesus and claimed he had special powers.

He was last seen by his heath care workers on September 11, 2013, four days before Mr Hall’s death, when he did not report any concerns or show any evidence being unwell, with his risk recorded as low.

The report, commissioned by NHS England and completed by a senior consultant, and a consultant psychiatrist through management consultancy Verita, states: “We found that the incident in September 2013 could not have been predicted.

“We found the death could not have been prevented.”

However, it details missed opportunities to refer him to services on the basis of his offending, efforts should be made to ensure information is shared by family members and carers with clinical staff so it can be taken into account when planning care and treatment, and that the trust did not meet the requirements of the National Patient Safety Agency.

Recommendations include that community teams should seek specialist advice as required in relation to treatment when managing those with a history or drug or alcohol abuse and do not engage with services.

The report adds clinicians should also ensure they comply with information-sharing requirements of the trust’s care co-ordination policy.

Mr Hall’s family were consulted as part of the report.