Student found dead in burning car '˜unlawfully killed'

An Eastbourne student whose body was found in the boot of a burnt-out car in Ifield was unlawfully killed, an inquest has concluded.

Monday, 19th June 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:08 am
Janet Muller SUS-150319-104701001

Janet Müller, 21, went missing from Mill View Hospital, in Hove, on March 12, 2015.

Her body was found the following day in the boot of burnt-out Volkswagen Jetta, which had been dumped in Rusper Road, Ifield.

Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw, of Lakeside, Beckenham, London, was sentenced to 17 years for her manslaughter.

An inquest concluded that there were multiple failings from the hospital, run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, in looking after Janet in the days leading up to her death.

Janet’s mother, Ramona Müller said: “Janet was a beautiful and bright young woman with a life full of possibilities ahead of her.

“We mourn for Janet today as we do everyday. She was unwell and needed the hospital and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to take good care of her. Instead of that, Janet’s last few days were a nightmare.”

In a report, issued by the coroners office, it said Janet, from Germany, was first taken to Mill View on March 3, 2015.

She agreed to an informal admission, however, the report said on March 6 Janet stated she was upset and asked to leave.

Six days later she absconded twice from the hospital, with the second leading to her death.

“During her detention Janet was at risk of absconding,” the report said. “Staff were aware but there was a lack of communication regarding this.

“Although there was some communication between staff there were inadequate risk assessments carried out and documented. Nursing records, handovers, risk assessment and care plan were incomplete, insufficient and at times contradictory.”

The solicitors representing Janet’s family, said she was found in a nearby field and returned to the hospital after she absconded for the first time.

The coroner’s report said there were no records to show Janet had been observed that day.

“The garden door was not locked or any extra measures taken to ensure Janet could not leave a hospital for a second time,” it said.

“In addition there was a failure by the hospital administration to provide sufficient staff.”

The report said on both occasion it was not known how she left the premises.

Her family said she climbed over a wall in the garden which was acknowledge as inadequate in the coroner’s report.

Ramona added: “As a family, we are concerned that even now, the Trust has not learnt the underlying lessons from Janet’s death.”

Dr Gurprit Pannu, consultant psychiatrist and clinical and service director for Brighton and Hove, said: “I do not underestimate how difficult and painful this inquest must have been for Ms Müller’s family and friends. I want to offer my sincere condolences on behalf of the Trust.

“I also want to say sorry. Ms Müller was a vulnerable young woman under our care who should not have been able to leave hospital in the way she did.

“We have made changes following our own internal investigation, which has included improving our security arrangements at Mill View Hospital.

“Ms Müller’s death was also included in an independent review of homicides we commissioned and published last year to make sure we embed the learning from incidents in a way that helps us improve the services we provide. That said, the fact remains that Ms Müller left hospital without permission whilst under our care. As clinical director responsible for our services in Brighton and Hove, I take personal responsibility for making sure we reduce the risk of anything like this happening again.

“As an NHS trust, we will reflect on the points the coroner has made today and make sure we respond to the concerns she has raised.”

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