Katy Sprague was strangled to death in the common room of an apartment block for people with mental health problems in Cambridge, UK.
His family had always been concerned for your safety.
New details of the events surrounding the murder have broadened their search for answers about a death they feel could have been prevented.
In the months leading up to his murder, Sprague had been concerned that the man downstairs was getting worse and worse.
He often teased her late at night, “hitting and vomiting.” On occasion he was found lying in a fetal position in a communal hallway.
His family raised their concerns with staff, but they say they were minimized– Each of the Denham Place residents lived there because they needed help with their mental health.
But overall, support for her sister was becoming increasingly plus scarce, dice Rebecca Sprague.
Katy, 51, had been living on the block for 13 years and had fought against acute anxiety for more than two decades.
At the Denham Place building, morale among staff seemed low. Elsewhere, social clubs were closing and activities were suspended as part of a “gradual and steady decline” of services that had left “nothing for people with mental health problems to turn to.”
That frayed safety net around Katy has become a key point for the family, as they reconstruct the factors that led to his death at the hands of Zac Jackson, the man who lived downstairs.
Her murder has already sparked two independent reviews at organizations whose job it was to care for Katy.
In their statement to the court, Katy’s family said they believed her death to be “preventable” and “avoidable”.
A series of details that emerged at the trial has left you wondering how an unstable man, with a history of violence against women and that he requested to be admitted to a hospital hours before killing her, he was left alone with her, with no personnel around.
“[Las personas con problemas de salud mental] They cannot be left to fix by itself alone without adequate support, “says Rebecca.
“Obviously, mental health services have been reduced to a minimum, and some of the results are that people are dying because of this”.
Katy was young in mental age and had suffered from anxiety since the time of her father John’s sudden death.
It was a person loving and considerate, Rebecca says, describing her as someone who “enjoyed life, but got very, very anxious about seemingly fairly simple situations.”
Katy lived upstairs from Jackson, and although they weren’t friends, from time to time they met in Cambridge bookstores.
The 38-year-old’s apartment was packed with Star Trek magazines and books on conspiracy theories, from the moon landing to the Kennedy assassination.
He had been diagnosed with a antisocial personality disorder and he was emotionally unstable.
He had spent several stints at Fulbourn Hospital, a nearby mental health facility in Cambridgeshire. It was a place he knew well and wanted to return to the day he murdered Katy.
On the morning of November 27, 2019, a community psychiatric nurse visited him for his biweekly antipsychotic injection.
At her apartment, Jackson told her that he wanted to be committed under the Fulbourn Mental Health Act, then tried to strangle her.
She pushed him and went to tell a manager, but, following her, Jackson told her that “I was going to kill her, kill the manager, and kill Katy.”
The nurse called the mental health crisis team to see Jackson, but was told that no one was available to evaluate it until the next day.
The news seemed to placate Jackson.
Later that day, unstaffed at Denham Place, Jackson strangled Katy to death.
During the trial in February, it emerged that Jackson had a history of attempted strangulation, albeit with no prior convictions.
Katy’s family learned that she had tried to strangle a support worker in 2018. Two more incidents occurred at Fulbourn Hospital; one in 2016 and another in 2002, when he tried to strangle his mother.
The court was told that, as a child, Jackson had witnessed violence between his parents, both addicted to drugs and who died from overdose.
As an adult, Jackson would provoke altercations with random women on the street, they told the court, making disparaging remarks before confronting them if they challenged him.
“The warning signs were there,” says Rebecca.
“He shouldn’t have stayed in a home where he had minimal support. Obviously, he didn’t want to be in Denham Place. As far as we know, he didn’t have any family support.
“More account should have been taken of the fact that he had this history of violence and, as we later learned, it appears to be violence. especially against women“.
Jailing Jackson for life, the judge described him as someone lonely that avoided contact with the society.
He said his outburst for killing Katy was “rightly [visto como] a cry for help “as he wanted to be hospitalized, a tactic he had used before.
But Katy’s family says questions remain about the reaction of the crisis team, which did not respond when called, and how Denham Place staff responded after Jackson’s outburst at the manager’s office.
“Katy certainly I didn’t know there was a threat to kill her otherwise I wouldn’t have been alone in the common room with him, “says Rebecca.
The common room of the 16-apartment complex had long been a source of concern for Katy’s family.
They were concerned that it was open when support personnel were not on site, such as on the day of the murder.
They also say that on one occasion Katy had been physically assaulted in that room by another resident.
Your family believes that if your concerns had been fully addressed, Katy would be alive today.
A review by the Association for the Protection of Adults is currently underway, as well as a review by the UK National Health System.
When contacted by the BBC, both agencies said they were awaiting the outcome of that review.
Julian Hendy runs the Hundred Families charity, which supports those affected by mental health homicides.
Says Jackson was “clearly a male very affected with a history of threatening innocent women. “
“There are serious questions about whether he was receiving the appropriate level of supervision at Denham Place, and whether the services responded quickly enough when he asked to be admitted,” he says.
“If they could have responded earlier, Katy would still be with us today.”
The Cambridgeshire County Council says the review being conducted on behalf of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Adult Protection Association will be made public “at an appropriate time”.
“The local authority and its partners will ensure that there is a process open and transparent to ensure that lessons learned are shared, “says a spokeswoman for the authority.
A spokesperson for the Denham Place management entity since 2017 says: “Our thoughts remain with Katy’s family during this such a difficult time. “
“We are fully cooperating with the review that is being carried out on behalf of the local authority and we await the result.”
For his part, a spokesman for the entity that leads the crisis team says: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Katy’s family and friends.
“We are supporting the review … to ensure that the lessons from this incident are applied.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.