Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anthony John Hardy: The Camden Ripper

Failure of the System

In January 2002, following the discovery of Sally Whites body and Hardys arrest for having poured acid into a neighbors mailbox, he was detained in the mental ward at St. Lukes Hospital in Muswell to undergo a psychological evaluation. The Daily Mail reported that while Hardy was being evaluated, he made sport of conning psychiatrists. The article quoted a friend of his who said that Hardy believed he was cleverer than they were. However, mental health experts saw through him.

Despite Hardys efforts to fool them, psychiatrists found Hardy to be a risk to the community, especially women. Edwards and Mackay quoted Dr. Alan Stuart-Reid, who warned that, His behavior is characterized by impulsiveness, lack of forethought about the consequences of his actions, seriously irresponsible behavior, inability to learn from experience and lack of concern for others feelings. Moreover, Stuart-Reid also said that there was a strong chance that if he were reintegrated back into society he would likely re-offend and cause others serious physical or psychological harm.

Despite repeated warnings from health care professionals, Hardy was released in November of that year. A panel, made up of three health managers made the decision after having found Hardy of little threat to society. Davenport and Dougherty said that their decision was allegedly based on reports by psychiatrists that he was of low to medium risk. However, Deborah Orr suggested in her November 2003 article in The Independent that the panel actually failed to read the report put forth by psychiatrists that warned against Hardys potentially violent behavior. It turned out to be a fatal error.

Martin Bright and Jo Revill reported in their January 2003 article in The Observer that a spokeswoman for the Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust confirmed that Hardy was under supervision throughout Christmas and even kept an appointment with his supervisory group outside the hospital on December 30, the day the vagrant first discovered the body parts behind a pub in Camden Town. Yet, even though he was under supervision it was extremely limited. According to The Daily Mail, health supervisors were actually so scared of him they refused to go to his council flat, agreeing to meet him only in cafes. Their fears should have been enough to raise the alarm bells about his behavior but nothing was done about it and Hardy remained free to roam the streets.

Following Hardys arrest, a public inquiry was held to determine why he was released when he was such an obvious threat to society. Orr claimed that there was increasing pressure to dismiss the panel of three health managers from their duties. However, some argued that the panel should not have been faulted for falling victim to Hardys manipulative psychotic behavior and that the blame rests solely on the offender. Regardless, the fact remains that had Hardy been kept in the hospital, Elizabeth and Brigitte would likely be alive today.

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