Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Freed to Kill Again Why?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Freed to Kill Again Why?

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Haworth

The shocking facts of how a deranged convicted killer was free to brutally butcher a Teesside vice girl were revealed by an independent inquiry today.

George Leigers stabbed Sarah Jane Coughlan to death with a bayonet at his home in Montrose Street, Middlesbrough, in August 2003.

But a 99-page report, published today after a 10-month inquiry into the care and treatment of Leigers, concludes that there was "nothing to indicate a second killing was imminent".

Sarah Jane was the much-loved daughter of John and Janet Coughlan of Kensington Road, Middlesbrough.

She had turned to prostitution to fund a crippling drug habit.

Leigers, diagnosed by one psychiatrist as having psychosis, personality and mood disorders and hallucinations, had bludgeoned his first wife to death with an ornament in 1986.

He was released from St Luke's Hospital into a nursing home in Linthorpe in 1993 by a mental health tribunal.

Then in 1999 the Home Office directed that Leigers should go to being purely a voluntary patient and was no longer bound to continue medication under supervision.

In 2003 he was discharged completely from the "safety net" care of health care professionals and social workers.

Six months later he murdered Sarah Jane.

Today's report crucially reveals:

- health care professionals were right to conditionally discharge Leigers from St Luke's Hospital in 1993 to a nursing home in The Avenue, Linthorpe. This was "appropriate at that time" it states.

- The report finds it was also "appropriate" for Leigers to be discharged from aftercare in March 2003.

It states: "The panel has concluded that this was appropriate given George Leigers lengthy stability and co-operation.

"Although the panel has raised issues about the limited amount of information provided to the GP on discharge the lack of detailed information was not related to the killing. …

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