‘Killing could have been avoided’

Maurice Hilton
Maurice Hilton

A DAD’S death could have been avoided if mental health services had worked together better in caring for his killer, a report has found.

An inquiry was launched by the North East Strategic Health Authority after Louisa Ovington was jailed indefinitely for stabbing Maurice Hilton at her home on January 8, 2006.

A young Louisa Ovington with her mum shortly before her mum was stabbed to death by her father and (inset) Maurice Hamilton, who was killed by Louisa 22 years later

A young Louisa Ovington with her mum shortly before her mum was stabbed to death by her father and (inset) Maurice Hamilton, who was killed by Louisa 22 years later

Mr Hilton, a divorced dad-of-three who lived in Dormand Villa, Station Town, was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of Hartlepool, where he later died.

Ovington was cleared of murdering the 46-year-old by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court, but the 27-year-old was found guilty of manslaughter.

The attack came decades after Ovington witnessed her father stab her mother to death with two knives when she was just five-years-old.

Her dad, Mohammed Khelifati, was jailed for 15 years after he left her mum, Mary, to bleed to death in the stairwell of the Edinburgh flat she shared with young Louisa.

Twenty-two years on she went on to be a convicted killer herself when she stabbed Mr Hilton as he lay naked in bed at her flat in Beachdale Close, Station Town.

At the time of the attack, Ovington was receiving community-based mental health care from Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust, which is now part of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).

In the previous 10 years, she had received inpatient and outpatient care from several different mental health services, many of which now comprise TEWV, as well as services in Newcastle, Edinburgh and an independent sector hospital in Hertfordshire.

An independent investigation was commissioned in 2008 to look into the healthcare and treatment provided to Ovington to see if there were lessons to be learned by local mental health services.

Overall, the panel concluded that if the agencies involved had worked together more effectively, it is possible that Mr Hilton’s death would not have happened.

The panel highlighted a number of issues which had particular significance, including failure to invoke public protection arrangements, failure to give sufficient weight to the impact of drug and alcohol abuse upon Ovington’s general mental health, inadequate collaboration between services and the effect of major reorganisations and staffing shortages on Ovington’s care.

The panel made a total of 31 recommendations within the report, all of which have been acted upon by local NHS organisations, as a result of internal reviews undertaken immediately after the event.

The panel also made additional observations to the North East Strategic Health Authority in relation to police and probation services, all of which have been communicated with relevant partner agencies to ensure lessons are learned more widely.

Professor Stephen Singleton, medical director at NHS North East, said: “Louisa Ovington had been in the care of various mental health services over a period of several years and experienced a lengthy, highly complex pathway of care, at times taking her outside of the region.

“There have, however, been vast improvements in mental health care since 2006 with robust systems now in place to minimise risk, ensure appropriate care co-ordination and timely information sharing between partner organisations.”