‘The system has failed to help my sick son’

Sarah Cox says her son was failed by the system after he suffered mental health problems after abusing drugs like spice.
Sarah Cox says her son was failed by the system after he suffered mental health problems after abusing drugs like spice.
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A heartbroken mother who attacked at knifepoint by her mentally ill son has told a court her son has been “failed” by the health and justice systems.

In an unusual step, victim Sarah Cox, who suffered a puncture wound to her leg and cuts to her hands when her son Edward suffered a mental health episode, bravely read her impact statement in court.

Sarah Cox says her son was failed by the system after he suffered mental health problems after abusing drugs like spice.

Sarah Cox says her son was failed by the system after he suffered mental health problems after abusing drugs like spice.

She had attended to support the 19-year-old during the proceedings at Preston Crown Court.

Cox, of Chipping Grove, Layton, who admits attempted grievous bodily harm, has been detained at Guild Lodge hospital in Preston under the Mental Health Act for around 15 months, and was accompanied in the dock by three health staff.

The court heard during the attack on his mother he had shouted: “This isn’t me doing this, he’s making me do this and I’m going to kill you.”

He told police prior to the attack he had been “awake for three days” and had taken amphetamine, smoked two joints of spice and £70 of cannabis in that time.

His mother read her emotive victim impact statement before Recorder Mukhtar Hussain and said: “I went back to the police station to retract my statement because I didn’t want to proceed with charges, I just wanted help for my son.

“Edward is an essential part of our family.

“The reason I called police at that time was I was absolutely desperate for my son to get help.”

Prosecuting, Neil Bisarya said the mum had noticed her son was agitated on February 27 last year when she returned to their home from work.

He said: “Sarah Cox, his mother, is the victim of the incident with her son and she noticed he had been using drugs and a change in his behaviour.

“To her credit she’d been trying to get him help through the crisis team and health service. She thought he was on edge as he kept pacing the room.”

The court heard she decided it was best to go to bed upstairs.

She could hear her son shouting. He came into the room and out again twice before returning armed with a knife.

Mr Bisarya added: “He was stabbing the knife towards her in a frenzied manner. She tried to fend him off. She fell on the floor and he was over her.

“He tried to stab her in the neck and she put her hands up to block him and suffered injuries.

“Ms Cox managed to get on the bed. He has stabbed her leg, causing an injury and she then used the duvet as protection.”

The court heard Cox fled the house when he heard neighbours coming in and attempted to hide in a bush.

Officers saw him peer over a car and shouted for him to stop. One drew his PAVA spray and he complied with them.

During a police interview in August, Cox said he had taken Spice and could not control himself, and it had “messed him up in the head”.

He described shouting ‘help me’ to his mum and hearing voices in his head.

He told officers what he did was not intentional - that he was asking for help and she ‘was not helping him’.

Addressing the court, the mum said: “This is the hardest letter I’ve had to write. It’s a very sad situation. This case has been escalated and brought before the court and the impact on family and friends has been tremendous. We feel there’s been a failure resulting in inadequate intervention and support for my son.”

She said a combination of drug use and getting in with the wrong crowd had led to a decline in his mental health and claimed on numerous occasions he had required intervention to be sectioned, which no-one would take responsibility for.

She described Edward being left to wait in a crowded area for hours at an A&E department to be assessed by the mental health liaison team, with him eventually walking out unseen.

She added: “To be left suffering in that environment was completely unprofessional and detrimental.

“Since the incident occurred he has been in Guild Lodge for 15 months - this has been an extremely long time for him at a young age.

“Since he has been in hospital he has been attacked twice and had to go to hospital.”

“He’s very remorseful. He understands the impact it’s had on all of us. I’m not going to condone his behaviour, but this is really not in my son’s character - he was under the influence of drugs.”

It is understood his mother supported hospital treatment but not an indefinite order to detain him.

Recorder Hussain said an indefinite hospital order under section 37 and 41 under the Mental Health Act 1983 was necessary to protect the public.

He added: “ There is no dispute that a hospital order is called for because you clearly need help with your mental illness which has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia.”

From the public gallery Ms Cox retorted: That’s not right. This is people’s lives - he’s 19.”