MENTAL health bosses in Wiltshire have rushed to offer full apologies to the family of a man who killed himself after struggling for years with mental illness, after a jury ruled today (Friday) his suicide was contributed to by neglect.

Terrence Bennett was 44 when he died at his family's home in Hillwood Close, Warminster, on October 27 2016.

Over the last two weeks, the Salisbury inquest heard how Mr Bennett, who suffered from schizo affective disorder, first stopped taking his medication, then threatened suicide and finally slashed his own throat and wrists many times.

He died after police had been forced to Taser him before they could get close enough to try and save his life, as he was threatening them and others with the knife.

His mother Mary had made desperate efforts to get help for him in the day before his death, making phone calls to Green Lane Hospital in Devizes, and although he was finally seen by mental health staff he was then left at home alone.

Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg recorded the jury's verdict that Mr Bennett died by suicide contributed to by neglect, adding that the following contributed to his death: lack of supervision by suitably qualified care co-ordinators and clinicians; failure to provide details medical notes, care programme approach, crisis plan and risk assessment for medical staff and family; inadequate communication within the medical team and with the family, in particular recognition of his risk factors of his condition; inadequate availability of staff to provide response to emergency situations.

After the inquest concluded this afternoon, Julie Kerry, Director of Nursing at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) said: “The death of Terrence Bennett was a tragic event and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to his family.

“We fully accept the findings of the coroner. It is clear we did not meet the high expectations we set ourselves and for that, we are very sorry.

“We have made a clear commitment to change our working practices and procedures to prevent this happening again.

“We know that there is still more for us to do and more we will learn from the detailed outcomes of this case. Over the coming days I will be writing to Terrence’s family and we will be examining the full details of the coroner’s findings to establish if there are further improvements we can put in place.”

Following Mr Bennett's death his family contacted INQUEST, a charity providing support and expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, and were represented at the inquest by public law experts Simpson Millar, amidst ‘grave concerns and doubts’ about the care Terry received in the months, and in particular the final hours, leading up to his tragic death.

Today, their solicitor Chris Callender said they felt they ‘finally had the answers and the justice they had been fighting for’.

Tracee Cossey, Terry’s sister, said: “My brother was a loving, creative, intelligent and warm hearted man, who was also very ill and had been for many years. The family relied on professionals to support Terry and to keep him safe, yet he was allowed to drift and deteriorate without anyone being aware of how poorly he was or take steps to help him and stop him from harming himself.

“Finally, the family have been given the opportunity to discover the true extent of the failings, received an sincere apology from the Trust and had our doubts and concerns supported by the jury and the court.”

She went on to thank the jury and Assistant Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg for their time and careful consideration throughout the inquest.

During the case the jury heard from police experts that the officers who used the Taser on Mr Bennett had had proper training, and had followed that training during the incident. They were called to the family bungalow late at night by a neighbour, after Mrs Bennett fled there for help because her son had threatened her and himself.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson said: “I would first like to convey my sympathies to the family of Terrence Bennett.

“The coroner has conducted a very thorough examination of the circumstances and the inquest jury has concluded that the use of Taser did not contribute to Mr Bennett’s death.

“I am satisfied that Wiltshire Police fully met its obligations by referring the matter immediately to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“The IOPC, then known as the IPCC, decided after conducting an investigation that no police officer or police staff had a case to answer.

“The evidence given to the inquest made clear that officers at the scene believed there was a risk both of Mr Bennett inflicting further injuries to himself and putting others at risk of injury. Their actions therefore were reasonable and proportionate.”