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|Flowers in Gods Garden
|??/??/?? - CHAPTER 1 - CHRONOLOGICAL
HISTORY OF SHAUN ANTHONY ARMSTRONG
THE REPORT OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE CARE AND TREATMENT
SHAUN ANTHONY ARMSTRONG
CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF SHAUN ANTHONY ARMSTRONG
Shaun Anthony Armstrong was born at the Littlethorpe Maternity
Hospital in Easington, County Durham, to Rachael Teal,
who was then unmarried and aged eighteen years. His father
was Joseph James Steel, his mother's own father. He was
apparently a blue baby, being delivered by forceps and
as a result of obstetrical problems his mother was unable
to have any further children.
For the first three years of his life Shaun Armstrong
was brought up by his maternal grandparents as his mother
was either working or in and out of hospital with psychiatric
problems from which she had apparently suffered from about
the age of fourteen. When he was three years old his mother
married George Armstrong who was then fifteen years older
than herself and Shaun Armstrong was brought up believing
that he was the son of George Armstrong.
Shaun Armstrong alleged that his stepfather showed little
affection for him but when his mother and stepfather subsequently
separated Shaun Armstrong stated that he really looked
up to his stepfather and indeed visited him on a regular
basis until October 1989 when all contact ceased following
Shaun Armstrong's second marriage.
As an only child Armstrong appears to have been somewhat
isolated and lonely and developed a close relationship
with a maternal cousin, Andrew Christopher Steel who was
almost exactly the same age. Andrew was tragically killed
in a road accident in 1969 when both children were aged
seven years. This event had a profound effect on Armstrong
and led to an immediate deterioration in his behaviour
and in his own words "I became a bastard. I became
hateful and got mad at everyone". He was apparently
referred to a Child Psychologist and possibly a Psychiatrist
but no further details of the referrals are available.
Approximately one month after Andrew Steel's death, when
Armstrong was aged seven years and two months he was subjected
to inappropriate sexual behaviour by his mother. This
continued until he was thirteen years when it progressed
to full sexual intercourse which took place on an intermittent
basis until he was sixteen.
Approximately five months after Andrew Steel's death his
mother and stepfather separated when his mother moved
back to her parents home taking Armstrong with her. Although
they were reconciled about a year later they finally separated
in 1974 when Armstrong was twelve years old. His mother
in fact finally left to live with Thomas William Matthews
whom she subsequently married. However Mr Matthews was
described as being excessively jealous and the marriage
only lasted four years.
Attended Easington Secondary Modern School. Described
as being overweight and a loner, he made few friends as
his mother insisted that he went straight home from school
and he was not allowed to play with friends.
Aged fourteen he attended the Nautical School at Campden
Square, Seaham, where he stated that he did well academically
passing five 'O' Levels and two CSE's in Seamanship and
Navigation. During holidays he found occasional work in
sawmills and as a delivery assistant for a TV retail company.
Letter written by Dr MR Whalley, consultant Child Psychiatrist
to Armstrong's GP refers to contact with Durham Joint
Child Guidance Services having been referred on account
of overt sexual advances made towards his mother. Letter
stated that Armstrong came from a broken home and his
mother was concerned as to whether the circumstances of
his birth meant he had a permanent mental disability.
Dr Whalley stated that he reassured the mother but did
consider that Armstrong was a very disturbed boy. There
was a suggestion that Armstrong required psychotherapy
and Dr Whalley considered discussing this with an Educational
Psychologist but there is no further documentation in
the GP's Notes.
Enlisted for Naval training at Plymouth aged sixteen.
Appeared before Easington Juvenile Court when convicted
of offences of dishonesty for which he was given a two
year Supervision Order.
Discharged from the Navy on the grounds that he was psychologically
unfit. This was allegedly following stress due to the
death of his girlfriend from cervical cancer at the age
of seventeen years. This association was alleged to have
lasted over two years.
Easington Juvenile Court. Convicted of offences of Burglary
and Theft and given two year Supervision Order.
After his discharge from the Navy, Armstrong returned
to the North East where he obtained employment in the
sawmills at Carrville and then in the Horden Colliery
where he worked for five years until he was made redundant
in April 1985. He then worked for a number of employers
including a two year spell in London but did not work
Armstrong left home at eighteen to marry CBM who was born
on the 30th December 1954 and who was therefore nearly
eight years older than himself. CBM already had two children,
a daughter (A) who was seven and a son who was four. After
the marriage the family lived at Horden.
Easington Magistrates Court. Convicted of two offences
of Theft and given a 120 Hour Community Service Order.
Armstrong's marriage to CBM broke down. According to his
wife this was a result of (a) violence towards her, (b)
her discovery of Armstrong having sexual intercourse with
his natural mother and (c) sexual abuse by Armstrong of
her daughter (A) which she did not disclose at that time.
According to Armstrong the breakdown was due to his jealousy
when he saw her talking to another man and read more into
the situation than actually existed.
First contact with Health Authorities. Took overdose of
mother's Parnate and admitted to St. Hilda's Hospital,
Hartlepool for two days. During admission he saw a Psychiatrist
but on his discharge no follow up arrangements made except
a referral to his GP.
Easington Magistrates Court. Obtaining by deception. Fined
Easington Magistrates Court. Three offences of dishonesty.
Sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for two
Divorce proceedings initiated by CBM. On receipt of Decree
Nisi Armstrong inflicted cuts to both of his arms in an
apparent attempt to kill himself and was admitted to St
Hilda's Hospital, Hartlepool.
Easington Magistrates Court. Four offences of dishonesty
sentenced to three months imprisonment.
Armstrong met EJA who was a friend of his mothers, seventeen
years older than Armstrong and with alcohol problems.
She was also a divorcee with four children and lived at
Peterlee, Co. Durham.
Easington Magistrates Court. One offence of Assault Occasioning
Actual Bodily Harm (to his mother) and five offence of
dishonesty. Community Service Order for 160 hours. Armstrong
subsequently stated that the assault on his mother followed
her disclosure to him of his true paternity, but some
doubt exists about this statement in view of his subsequent
statement that his mother only disclosed this information
after she had been diagnosed as suffering from carcinoma
Referred by his GP to St Hilda's Hospital in Hartlepool
because of depression. After treatment with antidepressants
he was discharged with no Out-Patient follow up.
Easington Magistrates Court. Two offences of dishonesty.
Sentenced to three months imprisonment.
Teesside Crown Court. Three offences of dishonesty. Sentenced
to two years imprisonment.
Teesside Crown Court. One Criminal Damage and four offences
of Dishonesty. Sentenced to 21 months imprisonment.
Released on Parole (to February 1989).
Armstrong married EJA.
Armstrong's mother diagnosed as suffering from malignant
melanoma. Until then Armstrong had believed that George
Armstrong was his father but his mother now disclosed
for the first time that Armstrong was the product of an
incestuous relationship with her own father which had
occurred from when she was twelve to seventeen years old
when she became pregnant with Armstrong.
Armstrong's mother died and Armstrong declined to attend
Armstrong seen at Peterlee Health Centre at request of
his GP by Dr F Gowans a Clinical Psychologist from Hartlepool.
Armstrong stated that his natural father was his mother's
father and that he (Armstrong) had been abused by his
mother from the age of eight throughout his school years.
He also stated that he had had a nervous breakdown in
1982, after he had left his first wife, when he had just
laid in bed shaking and crying.
Armstrong failed to attend follow up appointment with
Dr Gowans, who simply notified the GP of this fact by
letter, but gave no details of any assessment or of the
information supplied by Armstrong.
Peterlee Magistrates Court. Fined £50 for Public
Order Act offence and £10 for Theft.
Attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
Peterlee Magistrates Court. Fined £100 for Theft.
Armstrong assaulted by stepson KA (adult son of EAJ).
First admission to Ward 15 of Hartlepool General Hospital
following a telephone request from his GP Dr Pearson.
At the time Armstrong was low and anxious stating that
in the past he had self lacerated his arms, had overdosed
on his mother's prescribed Parnate, and was afraid that
he might harm himself again.
On this admission Armstrong made the following statements
to his Consultant or to the Nursing Staff: -
(A) He had received a Dishonourable Discharge from the
Navy for shooting a Chief Petty officer.
(B) He had found his wife in bed committing adultery and
had thrown the man through a plate glass window. As a
result he had been sentenced to two years imprisonment
and had in fact served 14 months.
(C) He was constantly fighting with his stepson who was
one of the children of his then current wife EJA, who
was herself 17 years older than him.
(D) He was annoyed because his step daughter (B) was going
out drinking almost daily leaving him to care for her
two children aged three and two years respectively.
(E) He was separated from his wife.
(F) He agreed he had both a drink and drugs problem particularly
with regard to the drug DP118.
(G) His mother had sexually abused him as a child.
(H) His mother, his current wife EJA and his stepdaughter
(B) had all been patients on the Unit.
His Consultant advised Armstrong that he could stay in
hospital for a short while until his marital problems
were resolved but that there was no medication which was
appropriate for his treatment. He was advised that on
discharge he should attend either the North East Council
for Addictions or the Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Centre
to discuss his drink and drugs dependency but failed to
Armstrong stated that he felt unable to return to live
with his current wife EJA and was exploring the possibility
of taking a bedsit in Hartlepool. EJA subsequently stated
the marriage had broken up because of violence towards
her by Armstrong, her discovery of Armstrong wearing women's
clothing and the allegation that Armstrong had abused
one of her daughters in 1986.
Social Worker contacted with regard to Armstrong's housing
problem. An interview was arranged for Armstrong to go
and look at Benedict House at Park Road, Hartlepool but
following a short leave from Hospital, Armstrong returned
saying that he had seen his first wife CBM and she had
agreed to Armstrong going to live with her in Plymouth.
The matter had allegedly been discussed with EJA who was
Armstrong discharged from Hospital. Diagnosis of personality
disorder. No follow up appointments were made as Armstrong's
new address in Plymouth was not known.
Armstrong's stepdaughter (B), then aged 22 years, alleged
that she and her sister had been sexually abused as children
by Armstrong who had subsequently abused her daughter
(C) aged two years. As a result of those allegations EJA
threw him out of her home.
29 & 30.11.1992
Joint interviews took place between the Police, Social
Workers and the child (C) but as nothing conclusive emerged
the Social Services Department made the decision that,
as Armstrong was no longer residing at his wife's home
and no contact was to be allowed between Armstrong and
the child (C), there were no further protection issues
in respect of the child.
Armstrong's second admission to Ward 15, Hartlepool General
Hospital. Armstrong stated that as a result of pressures
in his social life for a period of two months he had slashed
both of his forearms and taken an overdose of prescribed
medication including Ferricolin Folic, Co-codamol, Tagamet
Armstrong seen by his Consultant who diagnosed "Personality
problem with addiction problems".
Armstrong asked to see a Social Worker as he was separated
from his wife and homeless.
Consultant mentioned discharge from Hospital whereupon
Armstrong became very threatening and spoke of harming
himself in order to stay in Hospital. He threatened to
walk under a bus and also talked of nightmares about when
he was in the Navy and had killed a man.
Discharge from Hospital. Non-committal about where he
was going and follow up therefore impossible because of
lack of address.
Consultant carried out Domiciliary Visit at Armstrong's
Wingate home at his GP's request in relation to Armstrong's
drinking problems. Subsequently wrote to Armstrong's GP
describing him as suffering from Psychopathic Personality.
Armstrong failed to attend Out Patient Clinic.
Police interviewed Armstrong about allegations made on
29.11.1992 by his stepdaughter (B). Totally denied by
Armstrong and in the absence of any further proof Police
decided to take no further action.
Admitted to Hartlepool General Hospital Ward 7 (General).
Stated that he was of no fixed abode and had taken an
overdose following the curtailment of a relationship.
He requested assistance with his housing problem and arrangements
were made for him to go to Union House at Southgate. He
was accompanied to Union House by a temporary Social Worker
attached to the Community Mental Health Team at Hartlepool
General Hospital but only stayed one night and left with
no forwarding address.
Admitted to Medical Ward 5 at Hartlepool General Hospital
from his Wingate address after an overdose following an
argument with his girlfriend CA. Stated that he would
take another overdose if things did not work out between
himself and CA.
Armstrong discharged from Hospital with no forwarding
Admitted to Medical Ward 5 in a deeply unconscious state
following a serious overdose of at least 28 Noctec and
28 Temazepam which he had taken as a result of an argument
with CA. During this admission he stated that his girlfriend
had thrown him out without any clothes, he was homeless
and needed help with accommodation. He also stated that
he intended to kill his girlfriend and then himself.
Subsequently transferred to Ward 15 where he stated that
his girlfriend was drinking heavily and she had attempted
to set fire to the house on two occasions. He had submitted
an application to the Homeless Department at the Civic
Centre and expected to be rehoused within two weeks. He
had been offered a place at Benedict House but had turned
that down as being too rough. His Consultant was asked
to write a supporting letter to the Housing Department
when he would be allocated a house or flat almost straight
Armstrong established a relationship with AS who was also
a patient on Ward 15 and this caused some concern to the
staff. Armstrong was transferred to Ward 16 but the relationship
Consultant wrote to Homeless Section at Hartlepool Civic
Centre supporting Armstrong's application for Council
Armstrong discharged. Stated that he would contact the
Unit with a forwarding address.
Peterlee Magistrates Court. Fined £60 for Theft.
Attended Out-Patients Clinic. Had changed address twice
and was then living at 32 Lancaster Road, Hartlepool.
Armstrong moved to 51 Frederick Street, Hartlepool, an
upstairs Council flat.
Attending Out-Patients Clinic. Still associating with
CA who was allegedly pregnant. Also still seeing AS.
Admitted to drinking two litres of cider per day and Consultant
made note that admission to Hospital likely in the near
future. Advised to contact Keith Appleby at the Alcohol
and Drugs Advisory Centre but failed to do so.
Attended Out-Patients Clinic. Marked improvement noted.
Stated that he had a job and a BMW car, was not taking
drugs or drinking and was coping well in his flat, all
of which were untrue.
Failed to keep Out-Patients appointment. New appointment
notified for 3.11.1994.
Rosie Palmer murdered.
Armstrong pleaded Guilty at Leeds Crown Court to Murder
and sentenced to Life imprisonment by Mr Justice Ognall.