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Warning signs had existed for 23 years; NEIGHBOURS VOICE CONCERNS AFTER DIXON'S: Concerns have been raised about how killer Ronald Dixon was allowed to live freely in a Tyneside community. ADAM JUPP investigates.


WARNING signs about Ronald Dixon had been there for years.

His first contact with a psychiatrist came 23 years before he killed Ashleigh Ewing and in the meantime, he had attacked his parents with a hammer, tried to break into Buckingham Palace and repeatedly urged professionals to reduce or stop his medication.

But on May 19, 2006, when 22-year-old Ashleigh arrived to give him a letter about a payphone he had damaged, he was living freely in the community, in a flat rented by charity Mental Health Matters.

News of Dixon's troubled - and sometimes violent - history has stunned neighbours, with some questioning why a ticking timebomb like Dixon, 35, was allowed to live alongside them.

Further investigations, including an inquest into Northumbria University graduate Ashleigh's death, are still pending, meaning neither mental health bosses or charity chiefs can discuss Dixon's case in detail.

But Caroline Parnell, head of corporate affairs for the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, explained the varying ways people with mental health problems can be dealt with.

COURT Yesterday's She said: "One in four adults will have a mental health problem at some time in their lives.The vast majority of people with mental health problems are cared for, supported and recover in the community.

"Most adults come into contact with mental health service via their GP where, depending on local services, they may be supported either by services based in GP/primary care, or a range of community mental health services.

"People may also be referred to mental health services by the courts or through accident and emergency units.

"Increasingly the people needing inpatient hospital care for mental health problems have complex needs that require highly specialist support.

"The majority of people receiving mental health services do so voluntarily but some people, due to the nature of their illness may need to be subject to a section of the Mental Health Act.

"This requires them to be assessed and/or treated during a specified length of time in hospital.

"Once people are referred to mental health services they work with a member of a multi-disciplinary team to assess their needs.

"Multi-disciplinary teams are made up of a range of professionals and they could include consultant psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, health care assistants and others.

"If the assessment identifies that someone has mental health needs then together with the patient a care co-ordinator, who could be any member of the multi-disciplinary team, devises a care plan designed to address those needs.

"A whole range of professionals and agencies, both statutory and voluntary, may be involved in delivering this package of care and support.

"The aim is to aid the patient's recovery, or to maintain their mental well-being to enable them to live as full lives as possible.

"A patient's needs, including the risk of them harming themselves or others, is regularly assessed, and the care and support adjusted to meet those needs.


"The vast majority of people recover following a period of care, and they are discharged when, following a rigorous assessment, the multi-disciplinary team of professionals decide that the patient no longer needs the support of mental health services.

"Some people, however, may continue to receive support from a range of agencies to help them with other needs, eg housing, employment, activities."

Mental health authorities were never able to reintegrate Dixon into the community.

After his 1994 attack on his parents, he was given psychiatric treatment at Cherry Knowle Hospital, Sunderland, before moving to Newcastle. In 2003, he applied for his flat through Mental health Matters. Over time, he began to drink heavily, miss appointments with his psychiatrist and struggled with debt.

After being detained in London in January 2006, he was admitted to the Hadrian Clinic, Newcastle, but eventually allowed home.


COURT CASE: Yesterday's Chronicle. CHILLING: Ashleigh Ewing leaving work on the day of her death; below, Ronald Dixon KILLED: Ashleigh Ewing, who was stabbed to death by mental health patient Ronald Dixon
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 3, 2010
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