June 29, 2022 10.30 am This story is over 24 months old

Council’s handling of man’s housing issue contributed to his suicide, coroner rules

A psychiatrist was concerned about his benefits and accommodation worries

A coroner has ruled that South Holland District Council’s handling of a housing issue contributed to a 35-year-old man taking his own life.

Maciej Szmyt was found dead in bungalow accommodation at The Anglia Motel in Fleet on August 10 last year.

An inquest into his death, held at Boston Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, heard that Mr Szmyt, who had attempted suicide four weeks earlier, had been concerned about payment of benefits and his allocated accommodation, which left him feeling isolated from friends.

He was registered with Beechfield Medical Centre in Spalding.

Paul Cooper, senior coroner for Lincolnshire, told the hearing that mental health nurse James Eley, based at Johnson Community Hospital, had “done all he could” to encourage the district council to provide “more suitable” accommodation for Mr Szmyt but “hit a brick wall all the time”.

An investigation report by Karen Blyth, on behalf of the NHS, said the fact Mr Szmyt was homeless and did not have settled status affected the type of accommodation he could be offered on leaving a hospital mental health ward.

She added: “This led to him being discharged to a single room with no cooking facilities in a motel, isolated from any local community.

“Although he had expressed feelings of loneliness to his CPN (community psychiatric nurse) it is impossible to state whether this had any bearing on his death.”

Mr Cooper told the inquest: “I take great exception to that statement.

He listed several reasons including Mr Szmyt having heard voices in his head, making a previous suicide attempt by overdose, attempting to cut his own throat and having told Mr Eley that he felt isolated.

The coroner also highlighted that a psychiatrist was so concerned about Mr Szmyt’s worries over the commencement of benefits payments and his accommodation that he was prepared to admit him as an inpatient if they weren’t quickly sorted out.

“For all those factors,” Mr Cooper said, “in my view, placing him in The Anglia Motel did contribute to his death, on the balance of probabilities.”

He gave a conclusion of suicide.

If you, or someone you know, is affected by any of the issues touched on in this story, you can speak to a mental health professional at The Samaritans here.