Doctor struck off after psychotic patient killed her two-year-old son

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 has been struck off after being found guilty of serious misconduct for allowing a psychotic woman to leave an accident and emergency unit just hours before she killed her two-year-old son.

Clement Agbatar failed in his duty to ensure that Melanie Ruddell was seen by the mental health crisis team at University Hospital of Hartlepool in August 2010, a tribunal has ruled.

Her family and friends had raised concerns after she claimed she had been drugged and raped.

Ruddell, then living in Castle Eden, discharged herself, and that night, she strangled and stabbed her son Christy at her brother’s home in West Rainton.

She then drove to Peterlee police station and walked in, carrying the toddler’s lifeless body.

Ruddell admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility in February 2011 and was detained under the Mental Health Act.

A 2012 inquest ruled that Christy had been unlawfully killed by his mother, but Sunderland coroner Derek Winter questioned why she was allowed to discharge herself from hospital.

Dr Agbatar, since retired, was found guilty of serious misconduct at a fitness-to-practise hearing held by the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service in Manchester.

The panel decided that Dr Agbatar’s misconduct was so serious that erasure was the only sanction appropriate in the case.

Chairman Dr Susan O’Connor said: “The panel has determined that, in the particular circumstances of this case, it would not be sufficient nor proportionate to suspend your registration.

“The panel is of the view that the public interest requires that it be made clear that your behaviour is unacceptable in a member of the medical profession.

“Accordingly, the panel has determined to direct that your name be erased from the medical register.

“In the light of all the evidence presented to it, and our view that you persistently and continually lacked insight, the panel is satisfied that erasure is a proportionate sanction in his case.”

The doctor’s name will be removed from the register in 28 days, subject to appeal.

Dr Agbatar claimed he did not make a diagnosis, but the panel found that there was sufficient evidence to indicate psychosis, as suggested by his referral to the crisis team.

The General Medical Council alleged that Dr Agbatar failed to detain the patient under the Mental Health Act when it was clinically indicated.

Giving evidence, the doctor insisted he did not have the power to section her, and the panel agreed on Friday, clearing him of that charge.

Dr Agbatar was also found guilty of serious misconduct over his treatment of a woman in September 2010.