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Inquest hears man with paranoid schizophrenia had not had face-to-face contact with a care worker for more than eight weeks

PUBLISHED: 14:26 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:19 14 November 2017

Leo Jacobs was found dead at his Norwich flat in November 2016 from a suspected accidental overdose. His mother Shelia Preston has spoken out about his case. Photo: Submitted

Leo Jacobs was found dead at his Norwich flat in November 2016 from a suspected accidental overdose. His mother Shelia Preston has spoken out about his case. Photo: Submitted

Submitted

A man with paranoid schizophrenia and who died of a heroin overdose at his Norwich flat had not had face-to-face contact with a care worker for eight-and-a-half weeks before his death, an inquest has heard.

Leo Jacobs was found dead on November 14, 2016, at his home in William White Place, Norwich, and the second day of the inquest into his death is taking place at Norfolk Coroner’s Court today.

Dawn Lark, a community health nurse for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and who had been Mr Jacobs’ care coordinator until shortly before his death, told the inquest the last time she had seen Mr Jacobs was on September 14.

This was also the last time Mr Jacobs had had face-to-face contact with any care worker before he died.

Ms Lark said she had also visited Mr Jacobs’ property on September 28 but he had been in Great Yarmouth, and that she had texted him on October 12 and offered to visit him the following day but that he had declined the visit.

When asked by Paul Clark, who was representing Mr Jacobs’ family, whether an 8.5 week gap was insufficent, Ms Lark agreed it was.

“I do agree it is not ideal. It was a combination of certain factors,” she said.

“At the time I did not have huge concerns for Leo, things had settled down for him,” she said.

She said she had a good relationship with Mr Jacobs and that he would talk to her about his delusional thoughts, his family, his money, his benefits among other things, but that he did not talk to her about drug use.

She said: “Leo never talked to me about his drug use. He denied to me that he was substance misusing.”

She said one day when she visited him she could smell a “strong burning smell.”

“I talked to him about it and he adamantly denied he had substance misuse issues,” she said.

Mr Clark asked Ms Lark whether, if she had been aware of how drugs were affecting Mr Jacobs, she would have overridden his request for confidentiality from his family.

She said: “My priority would have been looking at safeguarding and getting the police involved.

“Then that would prompt more of a discussion with other professionals. I would not have made that decision by myself.”

Stephen Taylor, another NSFT community health nurse, took over Mr Jacobs’ care under a restructure in October 2016, but the inquest heard that he had only seen Mr Jacobs face-to-face once, on August 17 2016 during a one-off visit before he took over his care coordination.

He said he found Mr Jacobs to be an “engaging, warm, open” man with no evidence of being psychotic at that time and no evidence of drug use.

A period of holiday followed by sickness meant Mr Taylor was off work until November 7, and when he returned to work he said he had to prioritise patients and that he had a caseload of about 40 people.

When asked by Paul Spencer, who was representing the NSFT, where he considered Mr Jacobs in terms of priority, Mr Taylor said: “He was somebody that I wanted to make contact with but he wasn’t somebody that I considered at risk.”

As previously reported, the first day of the inquest yesterday heard that Mr Jacobs’ family blamed “institutional failings of the mental health trust” for the circumstances surrounding his death.

Mr Jacobs’ friends told Norfolk’s Coroner’s Court yesterday that Mr Jacobs was a victim to the practice of cuckooing – where drug dealers take over a property.

And his mother Sheila Preston said if “sufficient care and treatment” had been provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) then drug dealers would not have been able to take advantage of her son.

The inquest continues.

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