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Inquest hears Kennington cancer patient Peter Hart shot himself after staff rushed him out of Kent and Canterbury Hospital

By Sam Lennon

A man crazed by medication tried to murder his wife and then shot himself dead after hospital staff dismissed him as a "nuisance".

Peter Hart, 71, of Kennington, was psychotically affected by steroids he had been given for cancer, an inquest heard.

His wife Jane criticised the health services for the type of drugs he was given and the fact that staff had tried to get him out of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital because of his erratic behaviour.

The shooting happened in Muscovy Road, Kennington
The shooting happened in Muscovy Road, Kennington

Rachel Redman, Central and South East Kent Coroner, concluded that Mr Hart took his own life while suffering a psychotic reaction to steroid medication.

But she said: “I am extremely alarmed at the evidence. It is clear that they wanted him out of the hospital.

“There seemed to be very little concern about how he was going to be managed at home.

“It is a very serious issue for the hospital. There was a rush to get him out.”

The inquest heard that Mr Hart and his wife Jane had been a close and loving couple.

"I am extremely alarmed at the evidence. It is clear that they wanted him out of the hospital. There seemed to be very little concern about how he was going to be managed at home. It is a very serious issue for the hospital. There was a rush to get him out..." - Coroner Rachel Redman

But Mrs Redman said: “As for what Mrs Hart went through, in her last moments with him he was trying to kill her.”

Mr Hart, died from a single wound to the head from a shotgun at his home in Muscovy Road on the evening of Thursday, April 9.

He had been discharged from Kent and Canterbury hospital that day and when he got home, tried to push Mrs Hart down the stairs and pulled a swordstick on her.

Neighbours heard her screams and went to her rescue, but had a “tug of war” to pull her out because Mr Hart was still holding onto her.

They locked him in the house and called police but then they heard the bang of the gun. Armed police then used flash grenades to storm the house.

Acting Inspector Nigel Douglas told the inquest, at Folkestone Magistrates Court, that the area had been sealed off and officers got in using a key provided by neighbours.

Mr Hart had been locked inside by neighbours after he had attacked his wife and they had got her out.

Acting Insp Douglas said: “We used flash grenades and made an armed entry. We understood there was one detained person there.

“We found the body in a rear bedroom on the floor. There was also a double barrelled shotgun.”

Acting Insp Douglas said the licensed gun had been taken from its cabinet in the loft. He added that a second gun cartridge had been found, suggesting two shots had been fired but only the fatal one was heard outside.

A hole beneath the bed suggested that the other shot was discharged to first test if the gun was working.

Acting Insp Douglas said: “We found that there was an intention by Mr Hart to kill his wife and then himself.

The Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury
The Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury

“That was borne out by his behaviour at the top of the stairs and we found the swordstick at the bottom of the stairs.”

Acting Insp Douglas said that Mr Hart had felt that his wife could not cope on her own so he wanted a suicide pact.

A post mortem examination found that Mr Hart had an aggressive brain tumour, which had been diagnosed as terminal.

Mrs Hart did not want to comment after the inquest.

A spokesperson from East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would like to express our sincere sympathy to Mrs Hart following the death of her husband.

"I was screaming. There was an antique swordstick and he started pulling it out..." - Mrs Hart

“Mr Hart’s care followed our normal clinical procedures, including a referral to Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust’s Consultant Psychiatrist to see if he was mentally suitable for discharge.

“The psychiatrist assessed him and felt that he did not need to be treated by Mental Health Services and that as Mr Hart wanted to go home this would be in his interests to do so if medically suitable.”

Mrs Hart said her last memory of her loving husband was of him trying to kill her.

She said that the steroids, which he had never taken in the past, had dramatically changed his behaviour.

She criticised health services for discharging him from the hospital when she could not look after him at home in that state.

He had been brought to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on April 8, severely weakened.

He had recently been given steroids for his symptoms, of sickness and depression but Mrs Hart said that these had made him highly agitated and paranoid. He had even said that the couple should commit suicide together.

Mr Hart spent the night at Kent and Canterbury and Mrs Hart was called by the hospital at 2.30pm next day to come straight over.

Folkestone Magistrates' Court
Folkestone Magistrates' Court

She said that he was very agitated and had to be restrained by security guards.

The couple were at the hospital for five hours while a care package was arranged for him.

Mrs Hart said that evening when they got home Mr Hart called his wife to come upstairs and tried to push her down the stairs

She told the hearing: “I said: ‘What are you doing?’ He gave a strange smile and said: ‘When are you going to stop torturing me?’

“I was screaming. There was an antique swordstick and he started pulling it out (of its sheath).

"I find it very hard to believe what happened. It was like a horror film..." - Mrs Hart

“Two neighbours heard me screaming and pushed the door open. They grabbed me out of house and locked him in.”

The neighbours then called police and the shot was heard.

Mrs Hart said that since the tragedy she had been diagnosed with having PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

She said: “I find it very hard to believe what happened. It was like a horror film.”

Mrs Hart criticised the hospital for sending him home that day.

She said: “They felt he was an incredible nuisance and wanted rid of him.”

Mrs Hart told the hearing that while he was weakened by his illness the steroids had also given him the strength to climb into the loft to get the gun.

Mrs Hart said she had known her husband for 41 years and they had married in 1979. She said that before the brain tumour he had been fit and healthy.

She said of his behaviour on the day he died: “It was just out of character. He never raised a hand to anyone. He looked after me all these years.”

The court heard that they were a particularly close couple, with a friend describing them as a “self-contained unit.”

Mr Hart was a retired accountant and family also described him as “very intelligent.”


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