A CORONER has called for an internal police probe into the investigation of a mental health patient’s unexpected death.
Caroline Beasley-Murray complained to Essex Police’s professional standards department after an inquest into the death of Lee Usselman, 55, who was found dead at his Canvey home.
A post-mortem examination and subsequent review gave the cause of death as intoxication by painkiller tramadol, anti-depressant citalopram and alcohol.
Mrs Beasley-Murray recorded an open verdict, saying there was not enough evidence that Mr Usselman of Harvest Road took his own life, or that he died following an accidental overdose.
She was critical of Essex Police’s investigation of the death.
Mrs Beasley-Murray heard PC Rachel Moss had single-handedly investigated the death, before deciding there were no suspicious circumstances.
Cross examining the officer, she asked: “You were on you’re own, you did not inform an inspector?”
PC Moss said she did not because “there were no suspicious circumstances”.
Mrs Beasley-Murray added: “You should have,” but the PC insisted it was policy not to inform an inspector unless there were suspicious circumstances.
The coroner added: “Did you not want confirmation from the inspector? Did you take any photos or request any other police attend? You had no back-up from anyone else?
“You keep quoting force policy, but I know the force policy too.”
PC Moss replied: “No there were no photos and no back up.”
Mrs Beasley-Murray said: “Were there any empty blister packs? Did you photograph them? Anything else noteworthy?
You have not got a photographic record.”
PC Moss said: “I spoke to Susan Usselman, his wife.
“He had been in hospital and depressed and had previously tried to overdose. He was on restricted medication.
“I checked his pocket. There was no note. In his wallet was a piece of paper, but it was not significant.
“There was an empty beer bottle by the bed. There was nothing at the time to suggest suspicious circumstances.”
Medical records show Mr Usselman had a history of selfharm and taking overdoses, depression and alcohol problems.
Mrs Beasley-Murray said: “I am not sure he formed the intention and took a deliberate act to take his own life.
“The court has also considered if it was an accident, that he took the tablets and drink deliberately and did not expect it to turn out like that, but there is also not sufficient evidence to record it as an accident.
“I am going to record an open verdict.”
RELATIVES of Lee Usselman want answers about the care he received from a mental health trust.
His family told the inquest Mr Usselman’s psychiatrist was on long-term sick leave at the time of his death and they were not informed.
He was under the care of South Essex Partnership NHS Trust since 2006 due to chronic depression, anxiety and alcohol problems.
The trust claimed his care was covered by two consultants during the absence.
Susan Usselman, his widow, complained the family thought Lee was seeing the same psychiatrist.
They were also shocked the trust discharged Lee into their care when he had become paranoid and felt the family was against him.
A trust spokeswoman said there were no gaps in his care despite the sick leave.
She added: “We can confirm immediately following his death an internal review was undertaken. This, combined with the inquest conclusion, determines no further investigations will be necessary.”