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Anguish as son walks to his death

A FAMILY have been left stunned after their son committed suicide just hours after being released from a hospital's mental ward.

A FAMILY have been left stunned after their son committed suicide just hours after being released from a hospital's mental ward.

Grief-stricken Ann Nicol, of Meadow Street, Accrington, wept as she spoke to the Observer about the tragic death of her son Ian Wilkinson last Tuesday afternoon.

Mrs Nicol said: "Ian had been ill for some time and he was getting worse. We thought he would be OK in hospital but they let him go home. He just wasn't fit to go home."

Former Moorhead High School pupil Ian, 31, was found hanged in a flat he used in York Close, Clayton-le-Moors, by his girlfriend Donna Ashcroft.

Paramedics battled in vein to revive him and he died at the scene.

A probe has now been launched by health chiefs after it emerged that Ian spent the previous weekend receiving treatment for his mental illness at Queen's Park Hospital, Blackburn.

Mrs Nicol, 54, said her son was admitted to the Hyndburn ward and staff were instructed to keep a close watch on him every 10 minutes.

She was furious when Ian, who lived in Sparth Road with Donna and their 18-month old daughter Jasmine, was released without warning on the Monday.

She thought he would be in hospital until the Wednesday when she was due to return from a short holiday.

She fumed: "From what we have been told, he was put on a 10-minute watch by the staff and then 24 hours later someone has let him out. He had never been in hospital in his life before and when they let him out he kills himself.

"He wasn't a drug addict or a drinker. He was a kind and loving lad."

Ian's dad Colin Wilkinson, 55, of Wareham Close, Altham, said: "Ian was a fun-loving lad and never did anything to anyone. I've lost a great son."

His sister Elaine Radcliffe said: "I went to see Ian on the Sunday and I rang the hospital on the Monday and they said he had gone.

"I played hell with them. Someone has sent him home and within 24 hours he's dead."

A spokesman for the Lancashire Care NHS Trust said: "The trust can confirm that someone using mental health services in Blackburn died while on authorised leave of absence.

"Authorised leave is only granted following an individual clinical assessment. There will be a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding this serious incident - as there is with any incident of this nature.

"This will consider all aspects of his care, treatment and support. The family will be involved. Our thoughts are with the deceased's family at this sad time."

Ian's funeral is due to take place today at Accrington Crematorium.

An inquest will take place on 8 January next year.

He had another child Kian and also leaves his stepdad Stewart, stepbrothers Russell and Daniel, half-brother Adam, stepmum Lynne and grandparents Kath and Harry.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist