True-life play on tragedy of suicide girl

Despair that ended in a car park death fall

Bucks Herald, 4th June, 1987

The tragic true-life tale of a Tring girl for whom society seemed to have no place is being re-enacted on stage in a controversial new play. Twenty-one-year-old Lucy Reynolds plunged from the top of a multi-story car park in Aylesbury in an apparent bout of depression following her prolonged remand in Holloway Prison.

Her family has been campaigning ever since for a reform in the care of the mentally disturbed, who often end up in prison because there is nowhere else for them to go.

And Lucy's father, Mr. Chris Reynolds, has welcomed the play called "Out of Sight" as a way of drawing attention to the plight of people like his daughter.

Written by Sheila Dewey with the complete co-operation of the Reynolds family, it is currently being presented at the Tabard Theatre in Turnham Green, London, with Sophie Hedderwick in the role of Lucy.

"Needless to say, we found it very harrowing to watch, but I thought that it got over Lucy's case very well without being sensational," said Mr Reynolds.

He added "We hope it will achieve reform of the treatment of the mentally ill, for whom prison is sometimes the only option.

"Lucy never got over her experiences in Holloway, and I think her case illustrates the need for a crisis centre where the mentally disturbed can spend a cooling off period.

"I am convinced that she would have calmed down within 24 hours if she hadn't been locked in a strip cell."

Lucy spent a total of 17 weeks in the women's prison, having been remanded in custody by Aylesbury Magistrates in October 1984.

She faced charges of attempting to rob a taxi driver and making off without paying a fare, for which she was later convicted at Aylesbury Crown Court and made the subject of a hospital order.

The prison authorities did not think Lucy should be in Holloway and neither did consultant psychologist Dr. Julian Candy, of St. John's Hospital, Stone, who tried, and failed, to find a secure unit which would take her.

Shortly after the first anniversary of her remand Lucy went to one of the upper floors at the multi-storey car park in Exchange Street, Aylesbury, and plunged over the edge.

At the subsequent inquest, North Bucks coroner, Mr. Rodney Corner, recorded a suicide verdict and said there must be a defect in a system which allowed a young woman to be put behind bars when she needed specialist treatment for severe derangement of her personality.

The idea for the play was prompted by an article in The Observer about the psychiatric wing of Holloway Prison, and was researched and developed over a nine-month period by speaking to Lucy's family, psychiatrist, ex-prisoners, members of the legal profession and pressure groups.