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Who was Culpable?

‘It was only possible for Graham Young to commit these offences because he was released from Broadmoor’, said Sir Arthur Irvine, QC, at the conclusion of Young’s trial at St Albans Crown Court, adding ‘the authorities had a duty to protect Graham Young from himself as well as from the public’.

So they did, and so serious were the consequences of releasing Graham Young into the community to poison his workmates, two of whom died agonising deaths, one wonders if Young alone should have stood in the dock

It can’t be easy for the authorities to decide who can, and who cannot, be released from institutions like Broadmoor. Unless it is accepted that Graham Young should have been detained for the rest of life after poisoning his family – and there must be a case for it – he would have to be released sometime. But not, surely, after only eight years when the recommendation was a minimum of fifteen.

The fact was that at least two psychiatrists believed Young would ‘continue to poison people’, given the chance. So why was he released at all? What is the point in employing ‘experts’ if, when they voice an opinion, they are ignored? Despite this, and decorating the walls of his cell with pictures of Hitler and other Nazis, Young was released, ‘eager to assist with his rehabilitation’. He was allowed to visit his family during weekends, then, in January, 1971, the Home Office decreed Young could be released to a government ‘training centre’ in Slough who were not told of his detention in Broadmoor.

It was the view of the Home Office that no warning was necessary. As one psychiatrist who treated Young in Broadmoor, said: ‘If we thought a warning was necessary we wouldn’t release someone’. The Probation Officer ‘allocated’ to Young did not visit his place of work or go to his home because it was not ‘policy’ to intrude upon his private life.

When Young went to live in Hemel Hempstead no-one told the police. Thus the ‘system’, such as it was, broke down, and a man who poisoned his family, including (by his own later admission) his stepmother, who died, was given the opportunity to do so again, an opportunity Graham Young took within weeks of starting his new job. But was he the only one to blame for his crimes?