A psychiatric patient who murdered a grandmother after escaping from a mental health centre made 14 emergency calls to police on the day of the killing, a coroner said.
Nicola Edgington, 36, stole a butcher’s knife and stabbed 58-year-old Sally Hodkin to death in Bexleyheath, southeast London, in October 2011.
Prior to the attack Edgington, who had killed her own mother six years earlier, phoned 999 from a hospital but her calls were downgraded in importance by the Metropolitan Police, a pre-inquest review hearing was told.
Edgington, who has schizophrenia, was previously convicted of manslaughter and detained ‘indefinitely’ under the Mental Health Act after killing her mother in 2005. She was released into the community just three years later.
Nicola Edgington, 36, left, stole a butcher’s knife and stabbed 58-year-old Sally Hodkin, right, to death in Bexleyheath, southeast London, in October 2011
Edgington was arrested by Metropolitan Police officers following the murder in 2011
A pre-inquest review into Mrs Hodkin’s death heard how two police officers took Edgington to A&E after making calls to police on 10 October 2011.
She made further calls from the hospital but the importance of the calls were downgraded.
She was later transferred to the Bracton Centre, run by the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust in Dartford, Kent, which provides forensic mental health services.
The hearing was told how Edgington was left alone in a room with a door on a latch. She is also understood to have been given access to the foyer.
A nurse who manned its reception quit her job as a result of a police investigation into the killing.
Edgington later walked out of the centre and travelled back to London, where she killed Mrs Hodkin and attempted to murder Kerry Clark, then 22, who survived after fighting off her attacker.
Edgington attacked and killed Sally Hodkin, slashing her neck with a stolen 12in butcher’s knife (pictured) with such force that the 58-year-old was almost beheaded
Edgington was jailed for life with a minimum term of 37 years in 2013.
Reports by NHS England and Independent Police Complaints Commission have already been carried out but a coroner ruled at a previous hearing that an investigation still needs to be conducted into the way Edgington was handled by police and medical staff on the day of the attacks.
Timeline of murder
NOVEMBER 2005: Edgington killed her 60-year-old mother Marion in 2005, stabbing her nine times in the face, neck and chest with a kitchen knife at her home in East Grinstead, West Sussex.
OCTOBER 2006: Found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and held under the Mental Health Act.
SEPTEMBER 2009: Released from a secure psychiatric hospital.
OCTOBER 2011: Attempts to stab Kerry Clark before murdering Sally Hodkin.
MARCH 2013: Sentenced to life for murder
Today Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe said the scope of the inquest, which is due to be held in October, will include evidence of the calls made to police.
She said she had found there had been about ’14 calls’ made by Edgington to police from ‘various geographical locations’ on the day of the attacks.
She continued: ‘One of them for assistance when she was in A&E and she preferred to speak to police.
‘These were on the day and my point was not necessarily suggesting there would be any (legal) argument – something would be amiss each time – but at least calling 999.’
Bryony Ballard, representing the Met Police, said the police watchdog report into the incident listed only four calls.
She continued: ‘I know there were some calls made after the officers had left her there [at the hospital].
‘At 4.52am, 15 minutes after PC Phillips exits the hospital and as a result of that PC Phillips is then recontacted and asked about how she was and as a result of that the call is downgraded. Then there’s another call but I didn’t see 14 calls.’
Nicola Edgington in Asda after she bought the knife (in plastic bag) she used to try and stab Kerry Clark with
The coroner said she will also investigate the ‘environment’ Edgington was left in at the unit after she was assessed by a mental health liaison nurse and duty doctor.
Edgington was previously convicted for killing her mother Marion, pictured, in 2005
She said: ‘The environment Ms Edgington was left in because it was one where there a latch on the door that she was left in.
‘There were 15 minute observations. Who was the person who made the decision about the 15 minute observations?’
Samantha Minchin, representing the health trust, said: ‘The mental health liaison nurse and the duty doctor and I understand the duty doctor no longer works for the trust. We can make inquiries.’
The coroner said: ‘There was a nurse on reception but I also read that she (Edgington) had been left in an entrance place.’
She added: ‘She was allowed to go into the foyer. We did identify that nurse. As I understand it, they left as a result of some of the work that was done in order to investigate this incident.’
The hearing was adjourned to the week-long inquest which will examine possible breaches of Mrs Hodkin’s right to life under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act.