The husband of a Hackney woman who died after jumping from her balcony accused emergency services in court on Monday of failing to properly protect her, as he paid tribute to his “force of nature” wife.
Mariana Pinto, 32, died in October after jumping through the balcony doors of her home in Westgate Street, the court heard. She was suffering at the time from a serious mental breakdown, having been released the previous day from Homerton Hospital following a severe psychiatric episode. Police officers restrained Ms Pinto at home for around five hours, and were forced to escort her to hospital in handcuffs due to her “manic” behaviour, the court heard.
A close friend of Ms Pinto accused police officers, firefighters, and doctors of “utterly and miserably” failing in their duty of care for Mariana, a Brazilian spa manager who had recently returned from a “dream” trip to Portugal with her husband.
After jumping from the balcony window, the court heard, Ms Pinto lay on a glass roof for around 45 minutes, before rolling off and falling a second time. Questions were raised in court about why firefighters who attended the scene did not do more to secure Ms Pinto’s safety while she was lying on the roof. Firefighter Peter Deighton, however, said he would not have done anything differently, insisting that the glass roof would not have been able to withstand the weight of a fire officer climbing out to rescue Ms Pinto.
“The roof didn’t look stable at all,” he said, “if the glass had failed, the rescuers and Mariana would all have gone through.”
The QC representing Ms Pinto’s grieving family asked doctors from Homerton Hospital why they allowed the 32-year-old to return home on the evening before her death, despite her manic and “out of character” behaviour. The psychiatric doctor who initially assessed Ms Pinto was only in her third month of medical training, it was mentioned in court.
Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Mary Elizabeth Hassell ruled out suicide, saying Ms Pinto did not have an “understanding” of what she was doing because of a “confused state with features of psychosis.”
She continued: “I should say to Mariana’s family, one thing I don’t know is if things had been different in terms of how her crisis was handled as to whether her outcome would be different. All I can say is there is an opportunity to do things differently.”
Pinto showed “no indication” that of suffering from anxiety when she first joined the her local local surgery, according to her GP, Dr Philip Delahunty, from London Fields Medical Centre. “She was never been by any doctors at our practice for anything suggesting mental illness or anxiety,” he wrote in a statement.
Pinto’s close friend Mariana Beja, who moved to the UK with her from Brazil several years ago, also stressed the unexpected nature of her friend’s psychiatric episode. “Nothing close to this had ever happened to my knowledge,” she wrote.
Camilo Parra-Braun, who married Mariana in 2015, told the court that the professional help given to his wife before her death was “totally inadequate”. In a moving statement read to the court, Mr Pinto described his wife as “force of nature … a divine soul who burned so brightly and touched so many lives.”
“She was planning for her future, our future,” he added.
Pinto’s death is one in a string of cases in recent years when UK hospitals have been criticised for neglecting mentally ill patients. South London and Maudsley NHS Trust was criticised for neglect in an inquest last year, after Chris Brennan, a mentally ill 15-year-old, died in its care. The NHS-run Priory in East Sussex was also criticised last year following the death of Amy El-Keria, 14, who died from cardiac arrest at Ticehurst House in 2012.
Additional reporting by Faye White