This case concerns the claimant, Miss Henderson, who had been battling the effects of schizophrenia for some time, and was receiving care both as an inpatient and in the community, from the defendant NHS Trust. It was known to the defendant that if her condition should deteriorate then there would need to be a low threshold for recalling her to inpatient care. Unfortunately she deteriorated, and before the defendant could assess her she stabbed her mother. She was convicted of manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility, as she was held to have some responsibility for her actions.
Following her conviction she sought compensation from the defendant on the basis that she should have been assessed and recalled to inpatient care sooner. Her claim included loss of inheritance under her mother’s will and for the time spent incarcerated. However the court held that the long-standing legal principle known as illegality (or ex turpi causa) was triggered, meaning that a court cannot compensate a claimant in circumstances whereby a person has some personal responsibility for their conduct.
It is reassuring that the courts have maintained their previous stance and that claimants will not benefit financially as a result of their criminal conduct. We understand that the claimant intends to appeal the decision and we will update further as this progresses.