In 2011, Jennifer Mills-Westley, a mother of two and grandmother, was enjoying her retirement in Tenerife. But her life was brutally cut short in a local supermarket when Bulgarian national Deyan Deyanov stabbed her in the neck, decapitated her and carried her head out into the street before being arrested, as terrified locals and holiday-makers looked on.
Now a report by the Health Inspectorate of Wales has found that the horrific murder could have been avoided, were it not for a series of catastrophic failings by mental health services in North Wales, the Telegraph has reported.
Following his arrest, Deyanov was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in a psychiatric unit for his crimes. At his trial, which took place on the island of Tenerife, magistrate Maria Jesus Garcia Sanchez ruled that Mrs Mills-Westley stood no chance, considering the forceful and unexpected nature of the attack.
Yet Deyanov, described as a drug user and homeless drifter, had previously been admitted to Glan Clwyd Hospital whilst visiting family in Flint, north Wales following concerns being raised about his erratic behaviour.
He was moved to the Ablett Psychiatric Unit, where he was treated for several weeks before being allowed to leave. Subsequently he travelled to Spain, where he again slept rough, before heading to Tenerife where he carried out his vile attack.
The report, which has not yet been released but has been seen by the Telegraph, finds that staff failed to take his symptoms into proper consideration, instead choosing to dismiss them as “malingering”. Investigators found that the cultural environment within the facility invited a “very prejudiced” view of Dayanov to be held, based on “misplaced cultural considerations and limited cultural awareness”.
“An example of such views included how he was deemed to be muttering gibberish as a consequence of speaking his own language,” the report reads.
This dismissal of vital information led to a failure by staff to diagnose the serious nature of his condition, and for his increasingly violent tendencies to be missed. He repeatedly displayed violent, aggressive behaviour while on the ward, but his actions were written off as attention seeking.
And although he threatened a number of people whilst in care, none of the health workers tasked with treating him considered that he had the potential to do serious harm to others. Consequently, he was not offered appropriate care, nor given community based support upon his release.
The mental health service in north Wales has come under criticism a number of times in the past, following similar incidents in which members of the public were murdered after psychiatric patients were inappropriately discharged.
In 2003, Brian Dodd was murdered by Paul Khan, who suffered from schizophrenia, in Prestatyn. A report into the case found serious problems with the way he was discharged from the service. And in 2006, the service was heavily criticised again after Christopher Devine murdered Sandra Bowring in Rhyl, Wales, again after receiving care.
The report into Deyanov’s release concludes that lessons from those two prior cases were not learned.
In an statement issued last year following Deyanov’s conviction, Mrs Mills-Westley’s eldest daughter Sarah said: “It is clear to us that there has been a catalogue of failings. Lessons must be learnt from this tragic event to ensure justice is done for our mum and to ensure that no other family has to be subjected to this ordeal.”