Death – Odessa Carey death: National review into mental health tragedy set to be published in New Year

Death – Obituary

It was a tragedy that left a community stunned and a family searching for answers.

And more details of the care given to mentally ill Odessa Carey, who killed her mother before cutting off her head, look set to be revealed in the New Year.

NHS England commissioned a national review into the case after Carey was detained in a secure hospital following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

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Jurors heard how her mum, who had the same name, was found dead on a bed at her home in Ashington, Northumberland, in April 2019. The 73-year-old had been decapitated.

Carey, then 36, is said to have carried her mother’s head around in a bag before hiding it in a cupboard under a sink at a friend’s house.

Jurors were told Carey was too unwell to plead to the original charge of murder but they found she did the acts of killing her mum after a trial of the facts.

After the trial Odessa senior’s other children blasted mental health services for letting their family down.

The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, whose care Carey was under, has confirmed it has carried out an internal review to see whether anything could have been done differently.

NHS England also commissioned its own independent investigation into the case.

Odessa Carey pictued with her mum, who had the same name
Odessa Carey and her mum

And its findings are set to be published early next year.

A spokesman said: “NHS England, who have commissioned the independent investigation, expect to be in a position to publish the report early next year.”

Odessa Snr, who suffered from arthritis and needed a mobility scooter to get around, died of serious head injuries.

Police investigation at Links View in Ashington
Police investigation at Links View in Ashington

At a hearing before the trial, which the jury were not told about, doctors said Carey is likely to have paranoid schizophrenia, which was proving resistant to treatment.

After the trial Odessa’s family paid tribute to the great-grandmother as they hit out at the mental health services that were supposed to help Carey.

And Sharon O’Brien, who had been in a relationship with Carey, told the Chronicle how when she visited Carey while she was on remand at HMP Low Newton, in Durham, she did not know what she had done. She also thought Sharon was a ‘clone’ and the real Sharon had been killed.

Sharon O'Brien
Sharon O’Brien

And on the first anniversary of the tragedy, Sharon revealed how, in phone calls from hospital, Carey has been asking pals if anyone had seen her mum.

In a statement, Odessa’s other children said they hoped lessons could be learned from the tragedy to spare other families from the same devastation.

“Our mam will be sadly missed by all – her sons, daughter, her brothers and sisters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends,” they said.

“Sadly she was taken from us in a horrific and vicious attack by our younger sister, who had suffered mental health issues for many years.

Odessa Carey
Odessa Carey

“Our mam was a loving, caring woman who would help anyone that needed it. She also loved to talk to anybody she met. She was taken from us too soon and had a lot more to give.

“We believe that the mental health system failed us and vast improvements need to be made. It is too late for our mam and sister, but hopefully they will learn from our tragic loss and stop others from going through the same heartbreak.”

A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) has been launched into the tragedy.

DHRs are carried out whenever somebody aged 16 or over dies as the result of the actions of a partner or family member.

These multi-agency reviews aim to establish what lessons can be learned from these tragedies in a bid to prevent future deaths and improve safeguarding. The precise date of the report’s publication is still unknown.

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What Is An Obituary

In national newspapers an obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a prominent person. Although it tends to focus on positive aspects of the subject's life this is not always the case. According to Nigel Farndale, the Obituaries Editor of The Times: “Obits should be life affirming rather than gloomy, but they should also be opinionated, leaving the reader with a strong sense of whether the subject lived a good life or bad; whether they were right or wrong in the handling of their public affairs.”

In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.