Social services held emergency talks on moving an art historian to secure accommodation amid fears for his safety just months before he was killed by his son, the New Journal has learned. Professor Lee Johnson, 81, was beaten up and left to die in a house fire started by his son Michael in July 2006. Both men were rescued from the blaze but Professor Johnson died from shock in hospital. The tragedy that unfolded was described as "avoidable".
The council people did what they could to protect Professor Johnson, including calling the police in for advice. But Professor Johnson wanted to continue to see his son alone. Neither the council nor the police could stop that.
Judge Beaumont said it was "necessary for the protection of the public from serious harm at Michael's hands" that Johnson be held under the Mental Health Act. At the time of the offence he was suffering from a mental illness of a nature that makes it appropriate for him to be detained in a hospital, said judge. The drugs and his epilepsy brought him to this act. This tragedy has arisen as a result of the delusion within Michael Johnson's mind after what was a solid relationship, and under no normal circumstances would he dream of harming his father.
Dr Peter Fenwick, one of the country's leading epilepsy experts, said Keppra, the drug Johnson was being prescribed, was controversial. It is well known for three major effects, he said. It is extremely good for seizure cessation. Secondly, it makes people very irritable and thirdly it can induce encephalopathy (brain disease) and from that can arise psychosis. A number of my patients do develop psychosis.
(Definition of psychosis) In the general sense, a mental illness that markedly interferes with a person's capacity to meet life's everyday demands. In a specific sense, it refers to a thought disorder in which reality testing is grossly impaired.
This piece of tragic news reminded me of my Penang friend. In an epilepsy support group meeting, she related of a nightmarish event that unfolded in her home. Her teenager son who was epileptic had a seizure one afternoon. Knowing her son's unexplainable violence during a seizure, she hid herself in her bedroom. Little would she expect her son to dash into her bedroom with a chopper knife. She had known very well from her son's past seizures that windows in her house would be smashed and furniture would be broken. But to attack her with a chopping knife was beyond her imagination.
She screamed for her life and yelled hysterically for help. In her attempt to escape from her "unintentional" killing son, she suffered slashes and cuts. She dashed into a storeroom and locked herself in. She waited till silence was restored and heard her son groaning in pain. She knew by then his seizure had stopped. She walked out of the storeroom and found her son lying half conscious on the floor of the kitchen.
She called the police in immediately before her son regain full consciousness. She also called an ambulance for herself. Her son was being detained in the police lockup. She survived the fatal killing act coming from her epileptic son and was so traumatised that she never wanted to see her son again. She told us in tears drenching her blouse that it was extremely heartbreaking for her to see her son end up in a hospital and eventually, in an asylum, permanently.
I empathised my friend's situation and as a mum of a son I was also very heartbroken to hear such a tragic piece of news. Epilepsy robbed her of her only child. Because of all the harrowing experiences my friend had gone through with her son, my friend was determined to share the moral of her story with all caregivers -ALWAYS CARE AND LOVE YOUR CHILDREN FOR WHO AND WHAT THEY ARE. THEY ARE PRICELESS. UNLESS THEY HAVE COMMITTED ACTS OF KILLING, DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THEM. VALUE AND TREASURE THEM ALWAYS BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHETHER YOU WILL LOSE THEM OR NOT OUT OF EXPLAINABLE AND ACCEPTABLE HEALTH PROBLEMS.