Hospital staff suspended after sex offender with Asperger's syndrome absconds|
BRISTOL, UK: Two hospital staff have been suspended after a sex offender with Asperger's syndrome absconded during a supervised trip to a farm.
Tamer Mahmoud, a registered sex offender, disappeared on June 24 from St Werburgh's city farm, Bristol, a popular attraction for families and visiting primary school groups.
The 26-year-old was accompanied on the farm trip by staff from the Hayes Hospital in Pilning, Gloucestershire, where he was being held under the Mental Health Act. He was found 17 hours later by police after a public appeal.
Mahmoud was the second patient in less than five months to abscond from the care of the hospital, which is run by Britain's National Autistic Society (NAS).
In February, Darren Harkin, 20, allegedly escaped from the Hayes. He now faces charges of escaping from lawful custody, burglary and the rape of a 14-year-old girl in Chepstow, Monmouthshire.
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, expressed regret over the latest disappearance.
He said: "We recognise that public confidence in the Hayes Hospital has been severely shaken by this latest incident, particularly in the light of a previous incident in February. We sincerely regret this and we are taking immediate action to address the situation.
"Two staff have been suspended, all residents' leave from the Hayes has been suspended and we are increasing support for management on site while we investigate as a matter of urgency."
The hospital houses 12 patients with Asperger's syndrome and associated behavioural difficulties. They are each "detainable" under the Mental Health Act.
Considered by police to be a "high-risk" offender, having previously carried out a number of indecent assaults on women in London, where he used to live, Mahmoud was found after a search across Bristol, which included the use of the police helicopter.
The hospital said the visit to the farm was part of Mahmoud's "care plan" for his rehabilitation, and the activity would have been "risk assessed."
(Source: Daily Telegraph, June 25, 2008)