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Camden News - by RICHARD OSLEY
Published: 5 March 2009

Daniel Gonzales
‘I could have been stopped’: killer’s chilling words

A report published this week reveals the catalogue of failings in care of man who went on to kill Highgate couple - Special report by Richard Osley

MENTAL health experts revealed on Tuesday morning how they sat down with serial killer Daniel Gonzales and heard him tell them face-to-face how his crimes could have been avoided.
The interview was carried out before he committed suicide in Broadmoor and effectively amounted to a frank discussion about how Gonzales felt he had been let down whenever he asked for help coping with the voices in his head.
Desperate and confused, he went on the rampage in September 2004, killing four people, including Derek and Jean Robinson. The couple were pillars of the community who had the simple misfortune to open the door of their home on the Holly Lodge estate in Highgate at the wrong moment.
Gonzales, then aged 24, had transformed from a promising GCSE student into a masked desperado, often characterised later as a “Freddy Krueger killer” obsessed with violent films.
But the story of “Broadmoor’s most disturbed patient” is more complex than a tabloid editor’s headline.
Gonzales’s words pepper an independent panel’s investigation into the care he received in the run-up to his murders.
The New Journal was among the first newspapers to be handed the findings at a meeting in a hotel at Gatwick Airport on Tuesday morning.
They reveal a catalogue of problems faced by Gonzales and his family as they sought treatment for his schizophrenia, including:
• no continuity among the doctors;
• confused diagnosis;
• incomplete notes; and
• lack of monitoring after missed appointments.
Gonzales told the inquiry: “To have proper care you need to have a doctor to have followed your path for a little while and to cross-examine you thoroughly.
“If I was seeing someone two or three times a week, that’s at least something. I’d have been able to identify myself with the person.”
Just two days before his first murder, he ran naked through the streets of his home town, Woking. Police were alerted but no action was taken.
“What is clear is that this was a very big missed opportunity to assess Mr Gonzales’s mental state and it was directly attributable to failures in the care planning provided for him,” the panel of four independent mental health experts said.
Gonzales told them: “I wanted to degrade myself, self-degradation made me feel better. I tried to break my nose by jumping face down on the dustbin. I was running round the estate naked and everyone saw this. My step-dad called the police, the police didn’t come. I didn’t get arrested for it. That would easily have prevented those crimes because I was in a bad way.”
Significantly, the investigation, ordered as a matter of course by NHS South East Coast and Surrey County Council, ruled Gonzales’s sudden “extreme violence” could not have been predicted.
One consultant was reportedly unable to work properly with Gonzales because he suffered from “burn-out” – but no one person was to blame, the panel ruled.
On Holly Lodge, nobody has forgotten September 17, 2004.
Gonzales knocked on Mr and Mrs Robinson’s door at random, bursting in and stabbing them to death that morning.
By then, he had already killed Kevin Molloy in Tottenham, and two days previously had stabbed Marie Harding, 73, to death in Brighton. He was finally arrested on a platform in Tottenham Court Road Tube station.
In 2006, a jury refused to accept his killings were manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and convicted him of four murders and two attempted murders.
At Broadmoor, doctors said they had never met a patient so “disturbed”. At one stage, he was chaperoned 24 hours a day. He tried to chew through the veins in his arms before he finally slashed himself to death – apparently with a broken CD – in August 2007. He was 27.
His grandmother Brenda Cutmore described him as “the fifth victim”.
Gonzales had suffered from severe mental health problems from 17. Psychiatrists said his illness was often drug-induced.
Despite competently passing his GCSEs, he dropped out of college and began shoplifting and using cannabis heavily. Jobs in a bank and a video shop didn’t last more than a week.
Investigators were told how he felt “suicidal” and unsuccessfully tried to get away by staying in Spain with his father, Julian, who separated from Ms Savage when Gonzales was a boy.
In and out of prison and mental health appointments from his late teens, he saw an array of doctors, consultants and probation staff.
One probation officer raised concerns but was told by a colleague that Gonzales was “Just a silly little boy, he’s fine”.
The report said: “The guiding philosophy of care provision for service users such as Mr Gonzales lacked any determined commitment to understand his needs... Full engagement could not have guaranteed that Mr Gonzales would not have committed his offences but it would possibly have made it less likely. The prospect of full engagement receded with every missed opportunity and miscommunication...”
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the author of the report, said when she met Gonzales “he had a very good recall of his life and his treatment”.
She added: “He seemed like a perfectly normal young man but in the most extraordinary of circumstances. He was particularly critical of the lack of continuity in his care.”
Ms Scott-Moncrieff suggested some of the professionals ran out of ideas on how to help.
She said: “Staff would say: ‘Yes we will see him but what on earth can we do?’ This affects the services offered to people and it must affect the person involved, who must feel really hopeless.”
Her panel’s report makes uncomfortable reading for everyone. NHS Surrey and Borders Trust apologised and said changes had already been implemented. The police said they too were more robust now.
Gonzales’s relatives will read it and relive the frustration of trying to help their loved one. And, of course, it will be difficult to stomach for the relatives of the victims.
Those who knew Mr and Mrs Robinson might wonder forever how the killer who shattered life on Holly Lodge might have been steered away from his murderous path.
One of the final conclusions reads: “Mr Gonzales was not successfully treated. We cannot say with certainty that he could have been but we can and do say that the way he was treated was not likely to succeed and did not succeed.”

Derek and Jean Robinson: pillars of their community

DOCTOR Derek Robinson, 75, and his wife Jean, 69, were unsung heroes of the community, but loved in Highgate and further afield for two lifetimes devoted to helping others.
Five years before their tragic deaths, they had moved into a house on Makepeace Avenue – part of the leafy Holly Lodge estate – settling down after careers filled with travel and
foreign work.
Derek, a respected expert on child health and a university lecturer, had once worked in Nigeria and Uganda, while Jean spent time working as a communications
officer for Christian Aid.
In his retirement, Derek volunteered for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, often working with desperate teenagers seeking political asylum.
“He was good at dealing with youngsters who had been tortured,” one colleague said in a tribute. “He had a holistic approach and was alert to the mental state of those who he examined.”
Jean was remembered fondly as a music teacher in York. She ran after-school clubs for children and sang in a choir.
Closer to home the couple, who had two daughters, were so well-loved in Highgate that neighbours needed counselling from a local priest after their sudden and
violent deaths.
Derek had worked with the Holly Lodge Community Association and was described by one friend as “a steady voice” and “a man of reason”.
He helped out with Christmas dinners for pensioners, while his wife brightened up the lives of the elderly by driving them to lunch clubs and bingo.
In a tragedy that left an estate in mourning, both were stabbed to death by Daniel Gonzales in the hallway of their home in September 2004 after he randomly knocked on their door. Gonzales later stripped and was about to take a shower in their home when he was disturbed by a decorator. Gonzales escaped through a back garden but was arrested on the same day.

Gonzales’s four days of chaos

SEPTEMBER 13, 2004:
Former drama student Daniel Gonzales, a long-term mental health patient in Surrey, is found running naked through Woking, screaming. No action taken.

SEPTEMBER 15, 2004:
He travelled to Portsmouth, attacked pensioner Peter King with a knife. Mr King survived – but Gonzales headed to Southwick in Brighton and stabbed Marie Harding, 73, and cut her throat.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2004:
After taking train, he murdered former Camden Town publican Kevin Molloy in a street in Tottenham. He later broke into a house in Hornsey and attacked Koumis Constantinou, who survived the ordeal. But Gonzales then moved on to Highgate where he murdered Derek and Jean Robinson inside their home at Holly Lodge. He was arrested soon afterwards.

MARCH 27, 2006:
Gonzales sentenced to six life sentences.

AUGUST 9, 2007:
Gonzales commits suicide at Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital in west London.

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