Death threats made against Worthing man, jury hears

The announcement was made at Parkside this afternoon. Photo by Steve Robards SUS-150317-151409001
The announcement was made at Parkside this afternoon. Photo by Steve Robards SUS-150317-151409001

A MAN suffering with schizophrenia who died after falling from the top of a multi storey car park in Worthing had death threats made against him for money, a jury heard today (July 14).

Richard Copithorne, 41, of King Edward Avenue, Worthing, fell from the Teville Gate car park on July 23, 2013.

An inquest into his death is being held at County Hall North, Horsham.

James Copithorne, Richard’s father, said a man Richard ‘liked to think was a friend’ had taken ‘complete control’ of his son’s life.

The court heard the man made death threats and financial demands on Richard - who had his bank card and mobile taken off him.

The man had been living in Richard’s flat and at one point even pretended to be his carer.

Before Mr Copithorne’s death, Sussex Police worked with mental health professionals from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and a housing support officer from Southdown Housing Association to support him.

However, James Copithorne described reaching the ‘end of his tether’ with the authorities involved in supporting and safeguarding his son.

“I went down to Worthing Police Station because I felt I might get some instant action. The answer was usually no. They said Richard hasn’t made a complaint. “We felt there was enough evidence. We felt they were pretty tardy.

“He was frightened.”

He added care coordinator David Merry, who no longer works for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPNFT), ‘didn’t particularly want to engage’ with him when he raised concerns about his son.

The court also heard Mr Copithorne had not received medication for eight months before he died.

Liam Rudden, community psychiatric nurse for SPNFT gave evidence on behalf of Mr Merry.

He said: “Richard was living in the community making decisions about his treatment and care.”

Mr Rudden said Richard had the capacity to decide to take his own medication and it was not because of Mr Merry’s ‘lack of trying’ to make contact with Richard.

However he admitted Mr Merry did not make a referral to an outreach team following advice given by a multidisciplinary team.

Claire Baker, a support worker from Southdown Housing Association met with Mr Copithorne on a number of occasions while he was living at his home King Edward Avenue.

She said: “I felt I was trying to fill gaps that should have been filled by other services.

“In terms of the lack on information available and in terms of Richard’s legal rights. I didn’t really get any answers. I approached the vulnerable adults policing team. I felt frustrated. I felt more could have been done.”

Ms Baker told the jury she felt the support from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was ‘minimal to say the least’, however she said was working closely with PCSO Burstow to support Richard.

“And I felt that there could have been more involvement from police at a higher level,” added Ms Baker.

“I don’t understand why there wasn’t the same response as there would be to a domestic abuse situation or something similar.”

Penny Fenton, regional manager at SPNFT said the trsut has adopted policies to improve its services following Mr Copithorne’s death, including: improving supervision; improving communication with families, risk assessments, safeguarding audits and making sure everyone has safeguarding training.

The hearing continues.

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