Paul McNeil, Medical Negligence partner, represented the family of an academic after he committed suicide five days after he was entrusted into the care of a psychiatric unit in Surrey.


Benjamin Pettet

Corry Pettet, pictured above with her children


Professor of Law, Benjamin Pettet, aged 50, attempted to commit suicide at home and was taken to Epsom Hospital for treatment on 17 June 2005. He was transferred to the psychiatric ward at the hospital where he was clerked and prescribed medication.

He was not seen by a qualified psychiatrist at any point during his stay at the hospital, although he exhibited signs of schizophrenia and paranoia. He was also at high risk of self harm, which had been recognised by the admitting doctors and nurses. None of the ward staff took account of this.

Over the next few days his condition deteriorated and he became increasingly paranoid. The ward was chaotic and the consultant was on holiday. The junior doctor in charge had no psychiatric qualifications. He unnecessarily delayed the medication and did not order proper supervision and input by the psychiatric nurses.

Paul McNeil was instructed by the family of the deceased. Initially we represented the family at the Inquest. The coroner found that the suicide was contributed to by medical negligence.

We obtained expert advice and alleged that Professor Pettet was not treated properly. He should have been observed closely by the nurses. He should have been assessed regularly by a psychiatrist and his medication shouldn’t have been changed.

In addition, he was moved on his final day, from a single room to a four bed ward. Professor Pettet was a private man and we argued that this had been done without proper assessment and was the catalyst which caused his death.

The claim was settled for £550,000 in October 2009 a few days before the trial.


After the settlement, Professor Pettet's wife said:

"Paul was very gifted in finding just the right people to help him fight the case. The medical experts, the barristers and accountant all showed enormous dedication for their work. It made a sharp contrast to all those who treated my husband in hospital.

The compensation paid to me as a result of Paul's successful work will enable me to start to relax and stop worrying about my and our children's future".


For further information or if you have a psychiatric care claim please call Paul McNeil on 020 7861 4019 or email


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including legal aid and no win, no fee, or:

  1. You can speak to any member of our Medical Negligence team on freephone 0800 358 3848

  2. e-Mail us at or,

  3. Complete our short enquiry form.

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