Discharged mum went on to kill her toddler son, tribunal told

TRAGIC END: Melanie Ruddell and son Christy in a photograph released as part of an ITV documentary into the case.
TRAGIC END: Melanie Ruddell and son Christy in a photograph released as part of an ITV documentary into the case.
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A DOCTOR allowed a psychotic woman to discharge herself from hospital just hours before she went on to kill her toddler son, a tribunal heard.

Dr Clement Agbatar was working in an accident and emergency department in August 2010 when he assessed Melanie Ruddell.

After leaving the hospital of her own accord, Ms Ruddell went to her brother’s home in West Rainton and strangled and stabbed her two-year-old son Christy.

She then drove to Peterlee Police Station and walked in carrying the toddler’s lifeless body.

Ruddell, who was living in Dene View in Castle Eden at the time, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility in February 2011 and detained under the Mental Health Act.

An inquest held at Sunderland Civic Centre in 2012 ruled Christy had been unlawfully killed by his mother, but coroner Derek Winter questioned how she was allowed to discharge herself from hospital on August 8, 2010.

At a Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service in Manchester, the General Medical Council (GMC) claimed Dr Agbatar should have ensured Ruddell was seen by the crisis team at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and then sectioned.

Dr Agbatar, who worked at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust for 33 years before retiring in 2012, is facing allegations of misconduct at a fitness to practise hearing.

It is alleged the doctor failed to take into account the information available from police or the ambulance record, failed to properly assess Ruddell – referred to as Patient M – and failed to record a diagnosis.

Nigel Grundy, opening the case for the GMC, said: “If she had been told the crisis team were attending immediately, the likelihood she would have stayed and, or given the circumstances here, it is the GMC’s case that Patient M in effect ought to have been sectioned because it was clearly indicated given the acute psychosis.”

Dr Agbatar, who is representing himself, denies all of the charges. He is also facing allegations relating to another woman, known only as Patient A, who he treated at the same hospital a month later, after she was assaulted by her ex-partner, which he also denies.

If the panel, find against the doctor he could face being struck off the medical register.

•The hearing continues.