Damning report over release of cannibal who murdered friend

THERE was a “systematic failure” in the treatment of a schizophrenic who was allowed to live as an outpatient and went on to murder a friend and eat parts of his brain, a report found yesterday.

Convicted killer Peter Bryan was given permission to live in a hostel in north London where he could come and go as he pleased.

He had been admitted to a secure hospital after beating shop assistant Nisha Sheth to death with a hammer in 1993.

But eight years later, mental health experts decided he could live in the community under supervision.

In 2002 he moved to the hostel and at the beginning of 2004 social workers applied for his transfer to “low support accommodation” but four weeks later Bryan murdered his friend Brian Cherry, 43, and cooked and ate his flesh.

In a damning report into the case, authors found that while living in the community Bryan was looked after by an inexperienced social worker and a psychiatrist who had never worked with a convicted killer.

The report found “there was, however, a systemic failure to ensure that the key professionals allocated to care for Peter Bryan in the community had the necessary experience to deal with someone with his forensic history and complex presentation”.

“The two professionals, who were a supervising psychiatrist and social supervisor, for this unusual and complicated patient were a general adult psychiatrist who never before had had responsibility for a patient who had killed someone, and a very inexperienced social worker who had no training in mental health.”

Following the killing, Bryan was sent to Broadmoor, but within two months killed fellow patient Richard Loudwell, 59.

The report outlined a catalogue of errors in the way East London Foundation Trust dealt with Bryan.

The report criticised the decision to reduce the dosage of medication Bryan was receiving at the hostel after he complained to staff. This reduction could have been a factor in the eventual deterioration of his mental health, the report found.

This led in 2003 to Bryan being placed in a position where he was allowed to self-medicate.

The trust was also criticised after it emerged that it had not acted swiftly enough after an allegation that he indecently assaulted a 17-year-old girl.

The report said it was “seriously concerned” that despite the allegation, no attempt was made by the hostel or his social worker to contact the Home Office at the earliest possible opportunity.

Following the alleged indecent assault, Bryan was moved “for his own safety” from the hostel after being threatened by the girl’s family.

He was temporarily placed on a psychiatric ward at the Newham Centre in London in early February 2004, but just two weeks later Bryan was given permission to leave the ward temporarily.

He went straight to a DIY shop where he bought a claw hammer, Stanley knife and a screwdriver and then went to kill Cherry.

Police were called to Cherry’s flat to discover a semi-naked Bryan brandishing a carving knife and covered in dried blood.

Both of Cherry’s arms and one of his legs had been severed. In the kitchen parts of Cherry’s flesh were found cooking in a frying pan.

Professor Trish Morris-Thompson, chief nurse at NHS London, said: “We accept that there were shortcomings in the care and treatment of PB [Peter Bryan] and RL [Richard Loudwell] and apologise to the families of those involved for the distress that this has caused.”

Bryan told police following his arrest: “I ate his brains with butter. It was really nice.”

He was sent to London’s Broadmoor, but shortly after his arrival he struck again, killing Loudwell.

A second report released yesterday criticised West London Mental Health NHS Trust for failures in the case.


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