Does my son have to commit murder to get help?
Daniel Gonzales killed four people and seriously wounded two others in London and Brighton in September 2004, Here, in their own words, Daniel, his mother and stepfather outline the background to the case.
Lesley Savage – Daniel Gonzales’ mother
Every time we asked for help… we were told we would have to wait for a crisis to occur before he could have the help he needed. I did not know something dreadful was going to happen, but I was scared.
Daniel Gonzales – Letter to GP, October 2003
I really do need help now, I have tried to cope on my own like a normal human being without help or medication but I have not managed to succeed.
I was admitted to hospital in 1998 under section 37 of the Mental Health Act. I do not want this to happen again so I really need to go to hospital voluntarily and receive treatment under the care of the doctors before my mental state gets worse.
Please, please help me, this is very urgent. I really really do need medical help to find the correct environment and the correct medication. I need to take this in a controlled hospital environment. Please can you help me. I really would appreciate if you would help me improve as I am in a desperate situation.
Daniel was not admitted to hospital.
The day before I committed the offences I was seen running round Knaphill estate completely naked, round the shops, past all the pubs and everything, back down the road and all round the estate, completely naked. Yet I wasn’t arrested, no social workers or doctors came to see me or anything like that. Nothing was done to prevent that at all…I don’t know why I did it, to be honest. I’ve absolutely no idea. That morning I was punching myself in the face trying to give myself black eyes, and I did have one black eye….I was just going mad. I’ve never been that ill before, not even when I committed my offences…. I think it was a mode of self-harm but in a different type of way. I wanted to degrade myself, self-degradation to feel better. That’s the reason why I did that. I tried to break my nose by jumping face down on the dustbin; I threw myself down the stairs about three or four times. Anyway, I was running round the estate naked and everyone saw this. My step-dad called the police, the police didn’t come.
Steven Harper, Daniel’s stepfather
I can tell you exactly what happened because I still remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up in the morning; it was one of my rest days. I went downstairs, had a cup of tea, went out to the driveway and got into my car. I heard movement upstairs; I knew Daniel was awake. I sat in my car and I was just rolling a cigarette, and the next thing I knew Daniel came running up the drive, sprinting straight past me without any clothes on. This was at approximately ten past eight in the morning, and there are quite a few schools where I live, so there were people about and it was quite a busy time. I thought I would drive to see where he was going and what was going on. I couldn’t find him, so I drove round the village for a bit and then I phoned Lesley at work. She said to go and check if he’s back at home. I went back, opened up the front door. I knew he was at home because I could see through the living room window. I could see him pacing up and down. I walked in and there was no sound at all. He had obviously heard me come in and it went quiet. I said, “Daniel, I’ve been looking for you in Knaphill”. He said, “I wasn’t in Knaphill, man” in a really strange voice that I’d never heard before. I thought, something’s wrong here. I could just sense that something wasn’t quite right. I thought the only thing I can do is to go down to the police station. I thought, if I go down to the police station they’ll take me more seriously, I can give them a lot more information: paranoid schizophrenic, not taking any medication, just fill them in a bit about the details. That’s what I did.
The Police did not attend. Later that day Daniel’s mother called the duty social worker at the Community Mental Health Team but again without result.
If someone makes a phone call to the mental health team and says, “My son’s running round the estate naked and he’s jumping down the stairs and he’s trying to fall flat on his face to see if he can break his nose’. If I’m running round the estate naked they should [have acted] – he called the police and I didn’t get arrested for it. That would easily have prevented those crimes because I was in a very bad way.
Independent Inquiry Report
On Wednesday 15 September 2004 Daniel Gonzales, 24, caught a train from London to Portsmouth and got off at Southsea. He approached an elderly couple, Peter and Janice King, and attacked Mr King with a knife. Mr King defended himself, and Mr Gonzales ran off. Later that day he killed Marie Harding, 73, in Southwick, Brighton. He stabbed her in the back, cut her throat and stole her purse. Just after 5am on Friday 17 September 2004, Mr Gonzales killed Kevin Molloy, 46, on Tottenham High Road, North London. He stabbed him in the face, neck and chest. At about 6.50am, Koumis Constantinou was woken by the sound of Mr Gonzales breaking into his house in Hornsey, North London. Mr Constantinou was stabbed several times before his wife came to his aid and Mr Gonzales ran away. At about 8am the same day, Mr Gonzales killed Derek and Jean Robinson at their home in Highgate, North London. He stabbed them in the throat. At the time he committed the murders and attempted murders he was 24.
Daniel Gonzales was convicted of murder and given six life sentences. He was sent to Broadmoor high security hospital where staff described him as “probably the most disturbed patient we have seen in a few years”.
He took his own life there in August 2007
Quotes from Ms Savage from BBC News report
Daniel Gonzales GP letter from facsimile reproduced at Mail online article
All other quotes from Independent investigation into the care and treatment of Daniel Gonzales , January 2009