February 2011

The Tom Easton Flavasum Trust

 
 

February 2011

It has been a year since we emailed our last newsletter. That was just when NHS London published its independent report into the care and treatment of Barrington McKenzie before he killed Tom. The outcome was as expected, and no different to the hundreds of other reports issued after similar deaths.

Mental Health Tribunal

A year on, and the Mental Health Unit at Broadmoor Hospital has requested that a Tribunal should take place in March to determine whether McKenzie is still a threat to the public. This was triggered after his being there three years, and could mean his release into a lower security unit. We have been told that few people stay in Broadmoor longer than five or six years, unless they are a very serious danger.

Victim impact statement

As part of this process, Tom’s mother was asked whether she would provide a new impact statement for the Tribunal to read, even though it would not be taken into account during their deliberations. Only a mother or father who has had to write an impact statement after the death of their child can understand the mental torture of revisiting the anguish and pain while writing a second one.

Ministry of Justice

But why is an impact statement considered appropriate at this stage? Is it the justice system giving the victim’s family a voice - and a box for itself to tick - but otherwise taking no account of their concerns? How can a second statement be anything more than a rewrite of the first one that was read to the court after the  sentencing. Without any information being provided about the killer’s mental state while in Broadmoor, what can a statement say that has any relevance to a tribunal's decision-making process? If it hasn't any relevance, then what is its purpose, and should it even be called an impact statement at this stage? Maybe there are other more effective ways a victim's family can be heard? These are just some of the questions we will be putting to the Ministry of Justice... if they are willing to listen.

STREET ART

To commemorate Tom and his life, the Trust obtained planning permission from Islington Council and the local housing estate for an art installation near where he was killed. Just before what would have been Tom’s 26th birthday last September, Eine spray-painted a 70-foot wall with the word "CHANGE" - at no cost to the Trust. Eine, whose street art is familiar to anyone living or working in Hackney, received a lot of publicity when David Cameron gave one of his works to President Obama. Many thousands of people passing up and down Old Street will see "CHANGE" for the year it will remain there, and those who care to stop can read the plaque that explains why we chose this word. For those who can’t stop, "CHANGE" will have to remain an enigma that we hope will trouble them every time they see it!

AFTER EFFECTS

At the same time as Eine was spray-painting the wall, Mark One was screening his remarkable short film called "After Effects" at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden (kindly paid for by the Club). The Trust and the Robert Levy Foundation helped to finance the film's production, but Mark paid most of the costs himself . "After Effects" is a powerful and unflinching film that confronts the audience with serious questions - questions that need to be discussed by anyone who believes it is acceptable to carry or use weapons to solve a problem. The next step is the development of a programme of facilitated workshops that will use the film as a catalyst for discussion in schools from 2011.

RESEARCH

We are still committed to trying to find a way to evaluate the impact of anti-knife crime arts performances on young people. We undertook some research while Arc Theatre was touring "Boy X", but the task of following it up a year later proved a bit too much for us to cope with. We hope to complete the research this year and issue a short report outlining the methodology we used. If possible, we’ll test the methodology again when "After Effects" is shown in schools.

DONATIONS

Our thanks must go again to the Letchworth Garden City Eagles for their £1000 donation after a charity football game with a Spurs vets team last summer. They held it for the second year running in memory of Tony Samuels, one of their players, who had moved from London for a more peaceful life, and was stabbed to death by a tenant in his house.