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Fisherman's killer could be released 'at any time'
6:20am Thursday 22nd August 2013 in News
THE family of a popular angler whose head was held under the water in Sankey Valley Park canal until he drowned say they are distraught his killer could apply to be released anytime from now.
Anthony Ogburn, who doctors agreed was suffering from a psychotic disorder at the time, was sent to a secure mental health hospital in December 2011 after killing ‘gentle giant’ Harry Morris six months earlier.
But the grandfather’s family have discovered Ogburn, originally from Widnes, could now apply for a mental health tribunal at any time leading to his release and a tribunal has automatically been set for December 2014.
Daughter Siobhan Morris said the whole family are disgusted Ogburn could be let out so soon and has vowed she will not stop until she gets answers.
The 26-year-old added: “It’s not showing us any respect.
“It feels like they’re making a joke of my dad’s life and he’s not here to defend himself.
“Why should he get freedom and his life back after two years when we have lost a dad, granddad and friend for no reason?
“I don’t want people to forget what he’s done.”
The family also want answers as to why Ogburn’s psychotic diagnosis did not arise sooner after he gave Runcorn police a ‘rambling account of bizarre claims’ including his sister being murdered and daughter and ex-partner being kidnapped three weeks before killing Mr Morris.
It was decided Ogburn was not a ‘threat’ but experts said during his court case ‘it was clear that he was experiencing these (psychotic) symptoms for at the very least one month prior to the alleged offence, if not much longer’.
An internal review has been conducted by 5 Boroughs but the family have been told the trust is ‘unable to obtain Ogburn’s consent to share and discuss the internal investigation’.
Victims’ rights campaigner Julian Hendy from Hundred Families said it was a way for ‘mental health trusts to hide behind patient confidentiality to cover up poor practice’.
Siobhan, who is one of Mr Morris’ six children, added: “They say he has a right to privacy but my dad had a right to live.
“I’m putting all of my anger into this and even if it takes 30 years I won’t stop because Ogburn was in the community when he should have been in a hospital.
“My six-year-old daughter still talks about him.
“She will want to know what happened and I want to be able to give her the truth.”
A 5 Boroughs spokesman said they have agreed to 'try and facilitate access to the information' by contacting the patient to request consent.
A Cheshire Probation Trust spokesman said they could not comment on individual cases but they are ‘committed to putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice system’.
He added: "Dedicated victim liaison officers work with the victims or the families of victims to provide sensitive and factual information.
"Patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 can make an application for a tribunal once in every six month period.
"The main purpose of the Tribunal is to review the case...which takes careful consideration as to the protection of the public to ensure that those who pose a danger to the community are not released."
VICTIMS’ rights campaigner Julian Hendy, who has been helping Harry Morris’ family, says more needs to be done to help families bereaved by people with mental health problems.
The investigative journalist has set up the website Hundred Families and says there are now 1,000 cases like the Morris family across the country.
He added: “Ogburn was seriously ill and mental health trusts don’t seem to be learning from these tragedies.
“The victim’s family should be paramount but instead they have to go cap in hand to the man who caused them so much harm and grief for permission to learn what went on.
“Mr Ogburn was jailed indefinitely and yet within two years he can apply for release so surely justice has gone out the window.”
The campaigner also hopes to see the probation service ‘take a lot more care’ with the case after the family was sent a letter by mistake about Ogburn’s release.
He added: “Siobhan seems to have been treated with disregard, disrespectfully and not with openness and transparency.
“Nobody has taken the time to sit her down and talk to her.
“Victims’ families need a better deal and when Mr Ogburn does come to a tribunal I hope the family are informed of it, allowed to go along and make representations which is not the case at the moment and needs to change.”
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