The blog post that I wrote earlier today regarding the rather worrying case of Susan Brooke (see post ‘So Who’s Path Had Susan Brooke Crossed?’) has prompted an e mail from a reader with further information. The reader has pointed out that according to the information given in press reports at the time that Susan was jailed, she had three children by the time that she was 21 and had been sterilised. This suggests that Susan will very likely have had contact with the health and welfare agencies who routinely conducted themselves so badly. It would be unusual for someone with an education to have had three children by the age of 21, but it does happen – but what really rings alarm bells here is a sterilisation by the age of 21. It is actually very difficult to persuade doctors to sterilise young women. I have heard many first hand accounts of women in their early thirties who had completed their families having great difficulty persuading doctors to agree to a sterilisation. They really are very loathe to do it to women before their mid-thirties and they will throw up possibilities such as ‘what if you lose a child and want more? What if your husband dies or your marriage beaks up and you remarry?’
However there were two groups of women – particularly of Susan’s generation – who were sterilised and often at a very young age (frequently without informed consent as well) and that was girls with learning disabilities and girls with mental health problems who had been involved with the welfare services. Brian Rix, who campaigned on behalf of people with learning disabilities, famously spoke out in one case in which a young woman was ordered by a Court to be sterilised, causing a rumpus when he stated that she was to be ‘spayed like a bitch’. Brian Rix was only seeing the tip of the iceberg – many such cases never went near a Court, the deed was done with the involvement of tame (or worse) medical professionals. Such practice was always defended by the phrase ‘but she’ll get pregnant’. Now I know some parents of vulnerable young woman who have a well-founded fear of their daughters being sexually exploited and they certainly try to protect them from this. But that does not usually result in them wanting their daughters sterilised. That was an institutional response – and the horror was of an unwanted pregnancy, rather than the sexual exploitation. I knew of one such case, a woman who was a former Hergest Unit patient and prior to that had been a patient at the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. (After the day centre at the Hergest Unit was shut down she was one of the patients who became destitute.) At one point she was living in a notorious building in Bangor that was alleged to be ‘supported accommodation’ for people with serious mental health difficulties. Conditions there were appalling and I knew at one person who died after choking to death in his room there – his body wasn’t found for several hours although he was supposed to be observed every twenty minutes… Many of the patients at this place were patients of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones no less. It was known to be a dumping ground and was owned by a notorious local ‘businessman’ whom I was told ended up being investigated by the police for fraud. For a short while, my friend’s student daughter had a part-time job there and was horrified at what she witnessed. One thing that she remembered was the Hergest patient that I’ve just mentioned having sex in the kitchen – with patients as well as the more unscrupulous staff. I suspect that the same had happened when she had been a patient at Denbigh. There was no protection from sexual exploitation, just protection from an unwanted pregnancy that could prove embarrassing – especially if the father would have been a member of staff. So tubal ligation was the perfect solution! The staff could continue to shag the patients but there was no evidence.
So I very much suspect that as a young woman Susan Brooke had been incredibly vulnerable and had at some point at least been in the hands of the mental health services/social services. We now know that these services in north Wales were riddled with abuse and criminal behaviour. There is evidence that a similar problem existed in other parts of the UK as well. But the social services in north Wales were host to a particularly vicious paedophile ring – people who complained about them tended to end up in prison or turn up dead in suspicious circumstances. I would be most interested to know whether at any point in her life Susan had complained or made any allegations at all against anyone who was ‘looking after’ or ‘helping’ her.
The fact that after her arrest Susan was sent to Bryn Golau Ward is also alarming. Susan was detained there a matter of months before Denbigh finally shut it’s doors. It’s reputation was in tatters, it was an utter embarrassment and most of the institution had already been closed down – Bryn Golau and the alcohol/drug unit were the last bits to go. Whoever was providing Susan with legal advice was not doing her any favours by not ensuring that she was referred to another institution. I had assumed when I wrote my post earlier that Denbigh would have provided the Court with one of their utterly dishonest reports regarding Susan’s mental health after an ‘assessment’. But my reader has made the point that there probably wasn’t any assessment carried out at all – even if there was a report. He has suggested that the staff at Denbigh would have been given the remit and understood what had to be in that report before Susan even arrived at Bryn Golau. This is certainly what the documents in my case show was going on, both at Bryn Golau and at the Hergest Unit – people were being told what to say about me in statements by, variously, Andrew Park a Welsh Office lawyer, or their senior colleagues and managers. Dr X, a consultant psychiatrist at the Hergest Unit, at one point demanded that I be prosecuted to subject me to a ‘reality check’ of all things – I was eventually found not guilty. But not before Dr X had written a report for the Court himself recommending what was to happen ‘when’ I was found guilty – I’ve never worked out at what point their plan went wrong, perhaps a last minute change of magistrates or something? I also have a copy of a letter written by Alun Davies, manager of the Hergest Unit, explaining to a colleague that it was very useful that I was agreeing to be treated by Dr X, because if Gwynedd Health Authority were seen to be taking a ‘caring’ approach towards me (yes, Davies actually put the word ‘caring’ in inverted commas), they would be seen in a favourable light the next time that they prosecuted me. Someone like Susan Brooke wouldn’t have stood a dog’s chance against this lot – and she had actually abducted a baby, although that would seem to have been to pacify a demanding husband. As my reader summarised, a sterilised woman faking a 14 month long pregnancy and then kidnapping a baby to satisfy a husband that she has bigamously married is not acting rationally. And how exactly does one dupe ‘everyone close’ to them that one is experiencing a 14 month long pregnancy? Were there no antenatal appointments to testify to this medical first? And under what circumstances did Susan become a bigamist – this was her fourth marriage (and she was only 39, so there’s an indication of a potential problem in itself), so she’d obviously managed to negotiate her way through a few divorces previously. Furthermore how did Susan manage to get that baby out of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd? Security may have been more lax in 1995 than it is now, but it shouldn’t have been that lax. Susan does not sound like the most capable person on earth and I doubt that she could have passed as a healthcare professional. My correspondent speculates that Susan had probably spent her whole life in the hands of ‘welfare professionals’ and/or a community mental health team and had probably been let down by the lot of them. Furthermore, she had abducted the baby so was obliged to plead guilty – but she had abducted the baby under certain circumstances. But it was off to prison for Susan, no mental health problems there, she was nowt but a criminal. I suspect that like so many who have challenged the health and welfare services in north Wales, Susan is by now dead.
Of course, Justice (later Lord) Scott Baker who sentenced Susan to prison had been involved in a case in which he had ordered a mentally ill woman ‘with the mind of a child’ to be sterilised against her will. So he had previous. My correspondent also makes a point about Scott Baker. How did Scott Baker make a career move from working in the Family Courts and sentencing a woman for abduction in Chester to acting as the Coroner at Diana and Dodi’s inquest? Which when I stop to think about it is a bit bizarre. Particularly as Diana and Dodi’s inquest was the first inquest that he’d ‘done’. It’s one hell of an inquest for a novice – Diana and Dodi! And Scott Baker didn’t do the first inquest on Diana and Dodi either -he did the final one to shut everybody up after people kept banging on about the chauffeur being drunk or not being drunk, about Diana not wearing a seat-belt and Dodi being tanked up with cocaine and the white Fiat Uno that couldn’t be found and people complaining that Prince Philip woz the one wot done it. It’s hardly a logical choice – we’ve got a major scandal with allegations that the Royal Family have had two people killed, all hell is breaking out, the Daily Express won’t shut up about Diana being murdered, who are we going to call? Oh that old geezer who failed to notice the state of things at the North Wales Hospital and believed that a woman claiming a 14 month long pregnancy after a previous sterilisation was a master of deception.
I used to laugh at Dafydd and Lucille because I thought that their ‘connections’ that were constantly stressed to me by the likes of Alun Davies were just references to a bunch of Freemasons in north Wales and a few corrupt local policemen. But Diana and Dodi, bloody hell Dafydd I’m impressed. Which is why it’s certainly worth blogging about. It is of course still worth blogging about anyway although it’s a long time ago – because dozens of the people working in the mental health/welfare/legal system at that time are still in positions of influence. And some of those towards the bottom of the food-chain are still working as psychiatrists and healthcare researchers. Like David Healy, David Crossley and dear old Catherine Robinson. I really do think that it’s about time that they took a leaf out of Scott Baker’s book and quietly retired – although I hear that David Healy is adamant that he won’t be taking this particular way out… I wonder where he thinks this is all going to end…