THE heartbroken mother of a patient who died of a drug overdose at a St Helens psychiatric unit says she is determined to “fight for justice” and “will not let it go” until she has answers.
Devastated Michelle Harden, 47, also told how her son, Paul, 25, had only been admitted to Peasley Cross Hospital’s Taylor Ward because he was beside himself with grief at the tragic death of his five-year-old son.
Legh Vale Primary School pupil Elliot Harden passed away last February from complications arising from a brain tumour, which his family claim went undiagnosed despite several visits to doctors.
That tragedy, Michelle says, sent Paul, an ex soldier, into a vicious spiral of depression.
After struggling to come to terms with Elliot’s death, Paul finally agreed to go to hospital last October - where he was admitted to the Taylor Ward, a 17-bed in patient facility for people suffering from acute mental illnesses.
But, in the early hours of October 29, staff tried in vain to resuscitate him, along with fellow overdose victim Christopher West, 36, after finding them both unresponsive during routine ward observations.
Michelle says a subsequent toxicology report found that Paul died of a morphine overdose.
She told the St Helens Reporter: “I lost my son and my grandson in the space of eight months and I’m determined to fight for justice for our Paul - I will not let it go.
“Paul had been getting better on the Taylor Ward. He was starting to talk about Elliot, putting weight on and even having a little laugh and joke with us. But I want to know how on earth he got hold of morphine? Nobody seems to know where it came from.
“The records show that Paul took his sleeping tablets at 11.30pm and had a cigarette before going to bed at midnight. But five hours later he was dead.”
A joint investigation was subsequently launched by the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - which runs the Taylor Ward - and the police.
No criminal charges have ever been brought and a man arrested at the time was released without charge.
But Michelle, of Whittle Avenue, Haydock, now hopes an inquest into the underlying cause of both deaths, expected to be held in the next couple of months, will provide the answers.
She added: “Paul had made Elliot’s bedroom into a shrine after he died and covered the walls with photos. He barely left that room for six months. It was heartbreaking to see.
“Then, two days after Paul died, he was sent a letter from a bereavement counsellor who wanted to help him get through the pain of losing Elliot. But it was too little too late.”
A spokeswoman for the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust declined to comment.