No criminal charges over Sussex health unit deaths

Image caption,
Sgt Richard Bexhell was found hanged at the Woodlands Unit

No-one is to face criminal charges following a police investigation into the deaths of five people at psychiatric units in Sussex.

The Woodlands mental health ward was shut in October after John Blair, 40, and Sgt Richard Bexhell, 49, were found hanged less then two months apart.

Sussex Police investigated their deaths and three others in units run by Sussex Partnership NHS Trust.

On Thursday the force said it had found no evidence of criminal offences.

Det Ch Insp Trevor Bowles said: "Although this investigation has not found evidence of criminal offences, we will still be providing detailed information to the coroners that will significantly assist the four inquests that are yet to be heard.

'Deepest sympathies'

"Officers have today spoken with the families of those who died to explain as much as we can, although they understand that we cannot prejudice the future inquests."

He added: "The Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, which manages the facilities where the five people died, has assisted us by providing the details required throughout the investigation and has been informed of the outcome today."

In April, an independent review declared the Woodlands unit was fit to be reopened after a £500,000 refit and suicide prevention training.

Following that decision the trust reiterated its "deepest sympathies to the families of the people who died at Woodlands" and said it would publish its internal report once the inquests had taken place.

Discovered hanged

John Blair, 40, was found hanging at the Woodlands mental health ward on 19 October 2009. He died three days later in the Conquest Hospital, Hastings.

Sgt Richard Bexhell, 49, was discovered hanged at the unit on 29 August 2009.

Susanna Anley, 35, died at the Woodlands unit in April 2008, and Michael Stevens, 53, from Lancing, died at Worthing Hospital after he was found hanged in his room at the Meadowfield unit in Worthing in September the same year.

On 8 March this year a 27-year-old man was found dead in the toilets of a public area of Millview Hospital in Hove.

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