Tuesday 5 March 2013


The case of Nicola Edgington is desperately sad and dispiriting - see news of the culmination of her trial here.

The main issue was the failure of services to respond to the patient's cries for help - yet again - but I was also interested in the judge's remarks, particularly where he says "Your actions...were a consistent and calculated course of criminal conduct".

Odd words to use about somebody with schizophrenia who believed that God had saved everybody else but not her, among other terrible delusions. How sure could Judge Brian Barker be that he would not pose a risk if he had the misfortune to suffer from such an extreme form of mental illness?

I don't mean that he should have released her - she evidently poses a serious risk - but it was cruel to imply that this woman was in the same position as anybody else and equally responsible for her actions. Our legal system is in reality a populist rather than a fair one, unable to contemplate the possibility that shocking things can occur without somebody being unambiguously condemned and held responsible.

Any fair-minded person can see that the right approach to people like Nicola Edgington is to understand the role of the illness in her actions and accordingly afford a degree of compassion to her at the same time as protecting the public by ensuring that she is held securely for as long as necessary - which may of course be a long time.