The inquest into the death of Colette McCulloch, who died in a road traffic accident in 2016 while living in a residential care home, will begin tomorrow after her parents succeeded in challenging the review of the coroner, who they felt was biased.

Colette’s family say that Pathway House, the residential care home in Bedford which is part of the privately-run Milton Park Therapeutic Campus, failed in her care and that the coroner who originally investigated her death was only prepared to do so as a road traffic accident. The coroner who will undertake this investigation, Martin Oldham, will widen the scope to include the care that Colette received while staying at Pathway House.

Colette, who grew up in London, lived with a number of mental health conditions, including anorexia, anxiety and OCD, and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 33. She was initially admitted as a voluntary patient to a locked ward on the Milton Park Campus, but was later moved to Pathway House – which was outside of her local area – by Sussex Partnership NHS Trust.

Pathway House gave Colette permission to take overnight leave a number of times, in spite of this causing her significant distress, and her disorientation resulted in police returning her to the care home on a number of occasions. In the weeks leading up to her death, Colette’s behaviour became increasingly self-destructive, culminating with her jumping off a bridge in June 2016 with, as her psychologist described, “suicidal intent.”

In spite of this, requests for an assessment made under the Mental Health Act were rejected by the local Mental Health Service, who insisted that Colette was not at risk. Pathway House informed Colette’s family that she could no longer live in the care home without undertaking an assessment, and evicted her. Her family told the Guardian in 2017 that they do not believe Pathway House acted to keep her safe. A month later on 28 July 2016, Colette died while walking along the A1 when a lorry struck her.

The inquest will begin tomorrow.

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Source: PR/Leigh Day/The Guardian
Image: Flickr/Surrey County Council

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