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‘She’s not there, she’s gone’: Mentally ill Bromley man’s shocking phone call admission after strangling mum to death

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“Things will never be ok” for the family of a mentally ill man who strangled his mum to death, an inquest heard. On the second day of an inquest into the death of 68-year-old Celia Levitt the court heard heartbreaking statements from her family about the events leading up to her death.

During a psychotic episode Barry Levitt, 39, strangled his mum to death with a power cord, stabbed her with a knitting needle and smothered her with a pillow. In a statement read in court Celia’s sister, Liz Tyrell, described her as a loving and caring mum. “Her two sons and her granddaughters brought so much joy into her life. For her life to be taken by one of her sons is unthinkable,” she said.

The court heard how until his early 30s Barry, who lived in Bromley, had lived a healthy life. His mental health problems began in 2015 when he made an attempt on his own life while at a wedding in Turkey. The following year he had a psychotic episode which saw him sectioned. “In a week or less he changed from being his usual self to being a completely different person,” Liz said.

READ MORE:Mentally ill son who strangled mum to death with power cord tried to get help just hours before her death

During the episode Barry said he felt like Superman and jumped out the first floor window in his flat. His brother, Paul, was visiting from New Zealand at the time and described Barry as ‘manic’.

In summer 2016 Barry was discharged are five weeks in hospital having made a good recovery. His parents, Celia and Dave, had moved to France in 2006 but came back to live with Barry in the months after he was released. Barry was functioning well but in December 2017 after he parents moved back to France he decided to stop taking his medication as it had caused him to gain weight, Paul said in a statement read out in court.

His mental state plummeted in the week before his mum’s death in August 2018. “Just as in 2016, he went from being fine to being a completely different person in the space of a week.”

His family said Barry and Celia had a great relationship and it was inconceivable that he would harm her

On August 24, he texted he brother saying: “Hey, getting anxiety all week.” He told him it might be caused by an upcoming trip to New Zealand to visit Paul as well as feeling he had acted stupidly when he got drunk at a music festival at the weekend.

By August 27 Barry had called a crisis line and his family were incredibly worried. The following day Liz went to his house and found it in disarray. While out shopping with his aunt his behaviour was strange. They spoke about the situation and came to the conclusion that it might be best for Barry to go back to hospital where he felt safe.

“He seemed to me to be very frightened about what was happening in his head,” Liz said. “I think he believed he was going back to Green Park and he wanted that security.”

However, after being assessed at A&E at the Princess Royal Hospital in Orpington a psychiatrist liaison discharged him to a GP with a plan to get him back on his medication. An expert told the court that the clinician had made the right decision given the information available to her. However, Liz described the assessment as a “tick box exercise” and said the hospital staff didn’t ask her about Barry’s erratic behaviour.

‘Dark thoughts’

On the evening of August 29 Celia flew from France to look after Barry. Paul described a phone call he had with Barry before his mum arrived home: “His mood and demeanour was all over the place. He had erratic thoughts, dark thoughts.”

That evening Barry was up all night and his behaviour was strange, making sandwiches before immediately throwing them away and tried to speak with neighbours in the middle of the night. Paul said he warned his mum to be careful when Barry was in that state. Celia and Liz took Barry to A&E again that day. “He wanted to be admitted to hospital but was left sitting there for hours,” Liz said. When he was seen he the clinician saw no signs of psychosis and allowed him to go home with his mum with a plan that the GP would review him.

“Barry had been discharged he looked awful, like a little old man, he looked scared,” a statement from Liz said. “I suppose I just trusted that the professionals were doing the right thing. I was shocked that Barry was being discharged.”

Liz, who was the final person apart from Barry to see Celia her alive, said: “The last thing I said to Barry was ‘be good for your mother’.” That evening Paul rang Barry who told him: “Mum is under the bed.” When Paul asked to speak to her he was told: “She’s not there, she’s gone.”

Paul alerted authorities and at 1.46am on August 31 police forced entry to Barry’s home on Stoneleigh Road where they found Celia dead and Barry hiding in a bedroom.

“How can I be expected to describe someone I expected to always be there, I can’t. The gap in my life is immeasurable.” Liz said. “I also feel very disappointed that so much responsibility was bit on the family, none of us are medical health professionals. After losing my sister Celia things will never be ok.”

Celia’s husband Dave said: “I miss her dearly. She was a happy and caring person and did everything she could to help people in need. They say you never fully appreciate someone until they’re gone and that’s definitely true here. She was taken before her time and I’m truly sorry I let her go.”

Barry was arrested and after pleading guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility he was placed under a hospital order. The inquest continues.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/bromley-son-killed-mum-court-23750002