David ‘Rocky’ Bennett

David 'Rocky' BennettSisters’ call for action following brothers’ death

All credits BBC News
Originally published –
12 February 2004

Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

The sister of mental health patient David ‘Rocky’ Bennett broke down as she called for action to prevent more black men dying while in the care of the NHS.  She said his death, after he was restrained by staff at a clinic in Norwich, was a “total disgrace.” She said her brother had “dreams and aspirations,” but was let down by those meant to be helping him. Dr Bennett said similar deaths had happened since and lessons must be learned to prevent more in the future.

Her message was backed Helen Shaw, co-director of campaign group Inquest, who said young black men were more likely to die after being restrained in hospitals, in prisons, or by police.

Errol Francis of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, said, “Most of these deaths in custody occur away from the scrutiny of virtually everyone and I don’t think most people can handle the idea that something racist is going on.”

Mr Bennett, from Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, was a talented footballer and musician when, at the age of 20, he first showed signs of mental health problems.  Until his death Mr Bennett, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was in and out of hospital.

His family’s concerns about his treatment and the emphasis doctors placed on medication rather than other forms of help were “generally ignored”, Dr Bennett said. She also attacked the authorities responsible for an eight hour delay between the time of his death and the moment they were informed.  The report heavily criticised one nurse who told the family they could not be told the details of Mr Bennett’s death because there was an inquiry.

“We were treated with total disregard when he died,” Dr Bennett said.
Her brother died after being restrained for 25 minutes by up to five staff members.  He had punched a female member of staff after being moved to a different ward to separate him from another patient he had hit, but who later attacked Mr Bennett and racially abused him.

“Rocky died a brutal death,” Dr Bennett said. “He was pinned face down on the ground by the very people who we trusted to care for him.  “It breaks my heart every time I think about that night and it will live with me and my family forever.”

The independent inquiry panel made more than 20 recommendations to the government, including new rules for restraint and cultural awareness training for all NHS mental health staff.  Panel chairman Sir Jon Blofeld said progress had been too slow in the past.

He added, “Black and ethnic minority citizens should not have to claim their rights, they should be given them as a matter of course.”   Inquest’s Helen Shaw said: “Patients have continued to die in alarmingly similar circumstances since Rocky died in 1998 and this will not stop unless the recommendations in this report are implemented in full.”


Follow-up News:

Inquest report on the restraint related death of Rocky Bennett
(PDF file : original source, INQUEST)

Inquiry into the death of David ‘Rocky’ Bennett begins
20 March 2003

David ‘Rocky’ Bennett inquiry report: reaction in quotes
12 February 2004

Independent Inquiry into the death of David Bennett
(PDF file : original source, The Guardian)

Review and download from our wide range of fact sheets, resources and information compiled from various sources. We update this content as often as possible. Do you have something to share? Drop us a line!
Sponsored Advertisement

Website powered by WordPress | Goodnews Theme by Momizat Team | Developed and managed by First Stop Web Design

Shop & Support

National Mikey Powell Memorial Family Fund Appeal

National Mikey Powell Memorial Family Fund (Copy)

The fund is the first permanent national resource of its kind for those affected by deaths and abuses in custody

Click here to visit funding page

Get Our Email Alerts

Get Our Email Alerts

Sign up today for FREE to receive our 4WardEverUK quick news alerts and monthly e-newsletter via email.

Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! Please check your email inbox to confirm.