Suicidal man died after fleeing from psychiatric hospital

Edes House, West Street, Chichester
Edes House, West Street, Chichester

The family of a father-of-two who died in May last year after walking free from a psychiatric hospital charged with his care say that his problems were not taken seriously.

Ryan Chapman, 29, of Broadwater, was hit by a lorry on the A27 in Durrington after he was allowed to walk free from Meadowfield Psychiatric Hospital in Arundel Road.

He died from his injuries the following day.

The inquest into Mr Chapman’s death, at Edes House, in West Street, Chichester, opened today (Thursday).

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield heard that Mr Chapman’s family regularly walked straight onto his ward without being asked to sign in or to show identification.

Carrie Howell, Mr Chapman’s sister, said: “No-one checked who we were which surprised me.

“On May 16, Katy (Mr Chapman’s wife) and I walked straight through onto the ward.

“It felt like they were baby-sitting him and not treating him. He said the doctors would not reassure him he would be okay and this made me angry.”

Staff at the hospital had classified Mr Chapman as a low risk patient despite the fact he regularly spoke of his suicidal thoughts.

Steven Howell said that the day before the death of his brother-in-law, his condition had escalated.

He arranged a meeting with a member of the hospital’s staff, in which he said Mr Chapman should not be allowed to leave the ward of his own free will.

At 9.30am on May 21, witnesses saw Mr Chapman running westbound along the A27 before turning into the road.

Neil DeVille, a HGV driver who saw the incident, said: “It was a tragic event and my thoughts are with the family.”

The inquest continues.