June 19, 2011

ELIZABETH Jackson was already known to both police and social services by the time she died on July 24 2008.

Filed under: Secret family courts — Granarchist @ 6:03 pm

Niece continued in her role despite being found lying down in road

Thursday, June 16, 2011

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ELIZABETH Jackson was already known to both police and social services by the time she died on July 24 2008.

Both authorities had been contacted several times by neighbours worried about the frail pensioner’s unusual living arrangements.

But because the 87-year-old repeatedly refused offers of support and care, staff at social services said there was nothing they could do.

Mrs Jackson was being cared for by her niece, Susan Murray, who suffered from a history of anxiety and mental health problems.

People living near the pair in Ford Green Road, Norton, reported hearing Mrs Murray screaming during the night, slamming doors, wandering around outside in her nightgown and even repeatedly reversing her car into the house.

On one occasion, in October 2006, Mrs Murray was sectioned under the Mental Health Act after she had been spotted lying down on Ford Green Road, a busy route in and out of the city. But she was quickly released and resumed her duties as her aunt’s carer – a responsibility she had taken on after Mrs Jackson suffered from heart failure in February 2005.

When the authorities visited Mrs Jackson’s home, they described it as dirty and cluttered. But social workers deemed Mrs Jackson mentally capable so respected her choice to remain in the care of her niece, despite their concerns for her welfare.

Yesterday Mrs Murray and her husband Stanley, who was living at the couple’s home in Milton Road, Sneyd Green, while his wife stayed in Norton, refused to give evidence at an inquest into Mrs Jackson’s death. The law allows people to avoid answering any questions during a hearing which could lead to them incriminating themselves.

But in police interviews, the couple, who were deemed so mentally vulnerable they had to be accompanied by social workers while being quizzed by officers, denied ever assaulting Mrs Jackson.

But neither of them were able to explain how she had suffered from the injuries which led to her death.

The Murrays had called 999 at 7pm on July 23 2008 after they were unable to wake Mrs Jackson for six hours. They claimed they thought she was sleeping soundly on the sofa, but the pensioner had actually fallen unconscious due to a massive bleed in the brain, caused by some sort of blow to the head. She never regained consciousness and died from bronchial pneumonia caused by a severe haemorrhage.

Experts said it was impossible to tell if the head injury had been caused by deliberate violence or a fall.

A nurse caring for Mrs Jackson at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire discovered heavy make-up disguising several bruises on her face.

But Mrs Murray told police when she was interviewed under caution that her aunt had never worn make-up.

When DC Susan Wilson revealed that make-up had been discovered, Mrs Murray changed her story.

Ms Wilson told the inquest: “She said she put it on her face at about 11.30pm (on July 22) so she could sit in her wheelchair by the front door.”

Mrs Murray denied applying the concealer in a bid to hide her aunt’s bruises.

In a witness statement given to police the day after Mrs Jackson’s death, Mrs Murray said: “I tried to look after Betty as best I could. I mentioned to her whether she would be better off in a home but she said she didn’t want that.

“She said ‘promise you will never leave me’ and I never wanted to.”

She said Mrs Jackson, who had an extremely low Body Mass Index of 16 when she died, had lost her appetite and claimed it was a struggle to get her to eat and drink.

Detective Inspector Guy Titchener, from Staffordshire Police, said the force had exhausted all possible lines of inquiry.

He said: “We can’t establish with any degree of certainty exactly what happened to cause Mrs Jackson’s head injury.”

Councillor Olwen Hamer, pictured left, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, health and commissioning, said after the hearing a full internal investigation had been undertaken.

She said: “This is a tragic case. A full internal investigation was undertaken.

“The council acted within the law and acted appropriately. Staff had to make a judgment balancing the needs of the individual and their capabilities to make informed judgements and choices.

“Social services were repeatedly told by both Elizabeth Jackson and her niece that they did not want social care involvement.”


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