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Convicted killer found dead on railway line
CONVICTED killer Michael Harris was found dead on a railway line after escaping from a secure mental health facility.
Police launched a missing persons hunt for the 26-year-old after he went missing from Fromeside hospital in Bristol on Thursday afternoon and his body was spotted by a train driver on the railway line near Bath Road in Bristol on Friday night.
Harris was jailed indefinitely under the Mental Health Act for killing his friend Carl James in Priory Road, Swindon, in 2007, while a report last year revealed there was a litany of failures in mental health practices during his treatment.
Run by the Avon and Wilt-shire Mental Health Partner-ship, Fromeside is an inpatient 80 bed medium-secure unit in Bristol, which caters for both men and women suffering from mental illness who also have a criminal history.
Harris’ mum Julie Morgan, of Pinehurst, said he had escaped from the hospital, where he had been since he was jailed, and had previously tried to take his own life.
“I don’t blame individuals but I think the whole system stinks,” she said.
“It’s two lives gone but if mental health did their job I don’t believe they would be dead.
“He could not live with what he had done – as he started to improve the realisation set in. He had to try and deal with it and he just could not.”
A spokesman for AWP said: “As part of a planned programme of treatment, Mr Harris was on escorted leave under the terms of the Mental Health Act when he ran away.
“Staff immediately alerted the police and were devastated to hear that a body had been found by the British Transport Police.
“We have been in touch with Mr Harris’s family and have offered support to everyone involved. “Without formal identification, it would be inappropriate to comment further other than to say that we are undertaking our own investigation, as well as working with the police and coroner.”
The AWP have defined escorted leave as being allowed out of the inpatient unit accompanied by staff as part of a planned programme of treatment.
Harris was believed to have been hit by a train but British Transport Police would not confirm and said they were investigating the circumstances around his death after his body was spotted on the tracks by a train driver at around 10.45pm on Friday but formal identification has yet to take place.
A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesman confirmed: “BTP officers attended the railway line near to Bath Road, Bristol, on Friday, 11 January, after a report of a body on the tracks.
“The incident was reported to BTP at 10.45pm by the driver of an empty passenger train returning to nearby St Philips Marsh depot.
“Medics from the Great Western Ambulance Service also attended and the body of a man, believed to be in his mid-twenties, was located. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances, including how the man came to be on the tracks. The incident is currently being treated as unexplained.
A file will be prepared for the Coroner.” Anyone with information should contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
MP recalls a ‘very sad case’
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said Harris’s death was a “sad end to a sad case”. “There will presumably be an inquest and as with any death in custody there needs to be a full investigation to make sure all the processes to prevent suicides were being followed,” he said. “Secure hospitals and prisons always take steps to minimise the risk such as removing furniture with sharp corners and ligatures .
All these things are done to minimise the risk of suicide. “The processes are also in place to make sure staff and visitors to these institutions are safe. “Sadly you can minimise the risk but that doesn’t mean these things will not happen.”