Questions raised over mental health services at inquest hearing into death of Preston dad Shaun Horan

Questions over systematic failures in mental health services have been raised in relation to the death of 48-year-old Preston man, Shaun Horan.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 1st April 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 4:02 pm

Mr Horan was last seen at Mariner’s Way, Preston on February 3, 2020, and his body was recovered from the nearby docks on March 29, 2020.

>>>Click here for a timeline of Mr Horan’s disapperarance.

A pre-inquest hearing was held today (April 1) at Preston Coroner’s Court, attended remotely by members of Mr Horan’s family, their solicitor, and representatives from the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) and the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCFT).

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The late Shaun Horan

The aim of the meeting was to decide upon details of the upcoming inquest, including scope of the investigation and which witnesses would be called.

The court heard that in the summer of 2019 Mr Horan’s GP referred him to mental health services, and at that time he had separated from his wife, moved out of the family home, had restricted access to his children, and lost his job.

He was described as having “deteriorated in external presentation”, showing up to a McDonald’s restaurant on his son’s birthday “unkempt and unwashed”.

The court also heard that Mr Horan had a history of suicide and self-harm attempts, and had been found drinking “excessively” in a Salford hotel room over the 2019 Christmas period.

A month prior to his death, Mr Horan was admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital in a “severely intoxicated state” and underwent a number of mental health assessments.

The last one, conducted by Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Catherine Symonds on January 24, 2020, concluded that he was not suffering from mental illness and was not detainable.

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Representing the family of Mr Horan, a solicitor identified only as Mr Simms said: “Assessments concluded that he didn’t have mental health problems, or that these problems could be managed in conservative manners in terms of referrals to substance abuse or homelessness services.

"There was little or no active assistance offered to Mr Horan prior to his passing.”

He also argued: “There have been failings by one or more than one of the Interested Parties (health care providers) that has contributed to his passing.”

Mr Simms repeatedly made reference to the fact that no care co-ordinator had been assigned to Mr Horan.

A representative for GMMH said the Trust had “very limited involvement” in Mr Horan’s case and there was “nothing to suggest systematic failure”.

A representative for LSCFT said: “There is no evidence of a breach of systematic duties and no suggestion of a breach of operational duties.”

Deputy Coroner Neil Cronin said the issue of systematic and operational failures would be “kept under constant review” in the inquest.

He called for a review of Mr Horan’s mental health history and for a raft of witness statements, including from doctors, police officers and family members.

He confirmed that the scope of the inquest would cover Mr Horan’s diagnosis and treatment, the availability of mental health services to Mr Horan, and the medical cause of death.

The inquest, which will take place over two days, will be held later this year at a date to be announced.

Help for suicidal thoughts is available here