Nurses at a mental health hospital waited almost five hours to report a missing patient to police who was later found hanged.

Yesterday an inquest was told Oliver Minkley left his ward at Mill View Hospital on the morning of May 2 last year to have breakfast at the hospital canteen.

However, he was not seen again by staff and his body was discovered in toilets at about 7pm just 100 steps away from the ward.

He had hanged himself with his own shoelaces.

The 35-year-old, of The Drive, Hove, had been admitted voluntarily to the hospital’s Regency Ward suffering from depression and anxiety.

The inquest at Hove Crown Court was told that he left between 9am and 10am for breakfast unattended.

Staff realised he had not come back that morning and did a search of his bedroom, the hospital gardens and the canteen.

Staff nurse Winnie Chichera reported him missing to Sussex Police at about 2.40pm as a person of high risk of self-harm or suicide.

However, in a telephone conversation Sergeant Andrew Standing told nurse Chichera that he thought he should only be regarded as a medium risk.

In a statement read out at court, Sgt Standing said: “I pointed out there had been a five hour delay and that he left unsupervised at breakfast which I felt strange as someone they regarded as a high risk.”

The inquest was told Mr Minkley was allowed to go to the canteen unattended because staff felt he was making progress.

The nurse in charge of the ward at the time was not present when the decision was made.

Gemma Pettett, senior staff nurse, said she allowed him to go because he had returned unescorted the previous day, that he had agreed to take medication and thought it was “positive” that he wanted to eat.

The inquest is due to finish today.