Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Why Did No One Help Our Son?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Why Did No One Help Our Son?

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Stack

A Mum who fought to get psychiatric help for her son is reliving her anguish as he faces a jail sentence.

Kathleen Armstrong believes she and son Philip were "let down by the system" after a catalogue of events landed him behind bars.

In less than three years, Philip, 33, of Billingham, went from being a respected chef and family man to being held on remand in Holme House Prison.

He is awaiting sentencing after admitting two charges of affray and a firearms offence at Teesside Crown Court earlier this month.

Mrs Armstrong describes the last six weeks her son lived with her and her disabled husband, John, at their Thames Road home as "a living hell".

The events that took over their lives from April to June this year began with a call to the armed response unit after her son destroyed his bedroom with an air rifle.

Within weeks she found him threatening his pet dog with a knife. The final straw came when the terrified couple barricaded themselves in their bedroom while Philip tried to attack them with a large kitchen knife.

Mrs Armstrong, 53, says she made night-time phone calls seeking help, only to be turned away by a number of services.

She admits Philip later missed an appointment with a specialist because he "was out of it" on drink and drugs, but believes the problems would not have escalated out of control had he been sectioned under the Mental Health Act during one of his episodes.

She said: "Everyone talks about helping people with drug and mental health problems, but when you ask for help it isn't there.

"Each time Philip was arrested he was out of it - and by the time he was seen by a doctor the next day he was OK again, so he was not sectioned but bailed to my address.

"My son should not be in jail, but I had to let him go there otherwise he would be dead or someone else might be. He needs to be somewhere where people can help him.

"It makes me really angry that the first night something happened and I called for a doctor, they could have sectioned him then and none of what followed would have happened. …

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