The family of a woman bludgeoned to death by her mentally ill son say her death was preventable after she tried to save him from being sent away on his own for treatment.

Ann Scott brought her severely ill son Joseph home from hospital in a “final act of love” after fearing that he would not be safe in an out of area mental health placement in London.

Hours later, Mrs Scott, from St Leonards, was bludgeoned to death with a mallet in her own home in January last year.

The Argus: The scene in St Leonards in January 2023The scene in St Leonards in January 2023 (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

A court heard that child mental health services would not acknowledge her concerns that her son was suffering from psychosis after she reported that she could not keep him safe.

In a statement read at Scott’s sentencing for manslaughter, Ann’s sister Louise said: "Our family is heartbroken by the traumatic and preventable circumstances of Ann’s death.

"In the weeks prior to her death, when Joe was suffering a mental health crisis, repeated requests by Ann for specialist, in-patient assessment and treatment were ignored and denied.

"This left her with no choice as a dedicated mother but to give up the job she loved and take over the full-time care of her son.

The Argus: The scene in St Leonards in January 2023The scene in St Leonards in January 2023 (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

"The consequences of that decision will haunt us forever.”

Lewes Crown Court hear how Scott, then 17, had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had attempted to commit suicide in the months leading to his mother’s death.

He was admitted to hospital on December 12, 2022, after trying to hang himself but was discharged after setting fire to his shoes and hospital bed.

Joseph was back in hospital hours later after an attempted overdose and was subsequently sectioned under the Mental Health Act on December 21.


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Sarah Jones KC, prosecuting, said: “Ann Scott reported she 'does not feel safe for Joe to return home due to his increased risky behaviour'.

"She reported feeling unable to keep him safe.

"She felt her son needs admission to hospital as he does not accept medication at home.

“Ann informed that Joe has psychosis running alongside autism and that professionals do not acknowledge this, she went on to say, CAMHS don’t listen and his doctor won’t acknowledge the psychosis.”

On January 8, 2023, Ann Scott expressed concern about her son being placed out of area for treatment.

The Argus: The scene in St Leonards in 2023The scene in St Leonards in 2023 (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

Three days later Ms Scott later woke her son and took him home without telling anyone.

Judge Christine Laing said Ms Scott’s decision to bring her son home was not challenged by health professionals after Scott’s care was deemed ‘Too Difficult’.

On January 11, Ms Scott was bludgeoned to death with a mallet in her home in Hollington Old Road in St Leonards.

Sentencing Scott, who appeared via video link from a secure hospital, Her Honour Judge Laing added: "When you were admitted just before the time we are concerned with, a placement in London so concerned your mum she took you home - a course of action no-one tried to dissuade her from.

"It was her final act of love for you. She was trying to protect you from a system which was not using joined up thinking to try to help you.

"Ann was acutely aware of the inadequate provision for children and adolescents with complex mental health needs and their families.

"We can only hope our suffering will highlight, once again, the reality that families like ours face daily, to try to keep their loved ones and others around them, safe from harm.

"Your mum tried everything she could to get help for you.

"On too many occasions, the Too Difficult light came on and you have been moved around to different places with little consideration of the impact on you.

"Placing you far from home, on one occasion in Yorkshire, could not have helped anybody.

"It is of concern you were discharged because they could not manage you and it left your mum to do so."

Scott was given an indefinite hospital order with a restriction after pleading guilty to manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.

A charge of murder will remain on file.

The restriction means that the Home Secretary will have to approve Scott’s release should doctors ever find he is well enough to be freed.