Poplar solicitor inquest: officer was “very concerned” he wasn’t hospitalised

Matt Groom

Matt Groom - Credit: Archant

A Poplar solicitor who appeared to be “suffering a mental health crisis” was not hospitalised despite two assessments in the days before his death, an inquest heard yesterday.

The family of 36-year-old Matt Groom thought his mental state had deteriorated in the weeks leading to his death on June 15.

St Pancras Coroners Court heard he thought he was being watched by the National Security Agency, and claimed the so-called Islamic State was in contact with him.

Mr Groom, who lived in Simpson’s Road, off Poplar High Street, was arrested for affray on June 12 after he threatened neighbours with a knife. He was bailed from Stoke Newington Police Station after a mental health assessment.

Two days later, on June 14, he was arrested again after falling asleep in the lobby of the Islington Inn, on Essex Road, Islington, and refusing to leave.

Another mental health assessment, this time at Islington Police Station, found him “fit to be dealt with in police proceedings”.

Lucy McAuley-Burnett, from Islington Police, said in a statement read out to the court: “I was very concerned not to have seen him admitted to hospital.

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“Having previously been of good character, I was convinced he was suffering a mental health crisis.”

But Nem Lutchman and Francis Akinolou, who assessed Mr Groom at Stoke Newington and Islington Police Stations after each arrrest, said their judgements were based on his use of alcohol, cocaine and cannabis.

Mr Lutchman told the court he thought his problems were “linked to heavy alcohol and drug misuse”. He added: “He was not sectionable. There was no risk to others or himself at that point. There was no evidence of psychotic illness at the time of the assessment.”

Francis Akinolou, based at Islington Police Station on June 14, concluded that Mr Groom “was fit to be dealt with in police proceedings”.

He said: “My concern was his use of alcohol and drugs. He didn’t present to me as being paranoid or delusional. He was friendly, joking.”

Though charges were dropped by Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on June 15 - the day of his death - Mr Groom had fallen into a pattern of erratic behaviour.

After being released from court - where criminal solicitor Mr Groom would sometimes represent clients - so he could get help in Whittington Hospital, Archway, he ripped off the wallpaper in Upper Street’s Euphorium Bakery.

Later, after becoming agitated at a six-hour wait in the hospital in which he saw three different doctors, he ran out and had to be chased by his uncle, John Groom.

Having agreed to stay with John at his home in Epping, Mr Groom ran away at Debden Station. His body was found a short while later on Junction 5 of the M11 near Debden.

The inquest continues today.