Statement prepared by the family prior to Lucy's inquest
11th December 1985
Lucy Ann Reynolds (she called herself Louise during her illness) was born on 3rd October, 1964 at Tring, Herts, and lived there all her life. She was educated at Goldfield infant school, Bishop Wood Junior school and Tring senior school. This was followed by a two year Home Management and Child Care course at Casio College, Watford. She was also in the Tring St John's Ambulance.
Lucy always had a distinctive character. She was a friendly extrovert who wanted to share her love of life with others. She was of average intelligence, but socially immature for her age. As a child her uninhibited spontaneity endeared her to almost all adults except those who thought that "children must be seen and not heard". She was very fond of young children, who adored her. She assisted in play groups and a local school, did baby sitting and similar duties, and helped a local girl to come to terms with blindness. However the combination of extrovert and immature behaviour occasionally lead her into situations where others took advantage of her naivety. In fact her friendly and trusting nature made her very vulnerable to the predations of the more rapacious members of society.
By the time she had completed her education in 1983 she had matured into a highly presentable young lady, with a kindly manner, an aptitude for looking after children, and a delight in a job well done. She worked as both a live-in nanny in North London, and as a temporary mother's help working from home. She found even short spells out of work particularly irksome as she wanted to be up and doing things. During a temporary nannying job she became unreasonably super—critical about the standard of her own work. Terrified that she might not get a good reference at the end of the month she took an overdose in March 1984.
After a couple of months at home with acute depression Lucy made a second suicide attempt which led to her admission to a medical ward at Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, Bucks. Subsequently she attended the Byron psychiatric day centre at Aylesbury, except for a spell as an in-patient at St John's Hospital. After a few months treatment all trace of her depression vanished, to be replaced by an almost manic enthusiasm to get a job. Early in October 1984 she took a bed in an Aylesbury boarding house and, while looking for a job, spent some of her time doing voluntary work for the Buckinghamshire Association for Mental Health (affiliated to Mind).
In the early hours of Wednesday, October 10th, 1984 she had an argument with her room mate and was evicted onto the pavement, where she sat for some time surrounded by her possessions. A car (almost certainly a taxi looking for a fare) stopped and she was seen to get in. The events of the next 24 hours are uncertain, but on the Thursday she came to the attention of the authorities as being homeless, in a very distressed condition, and having lost many of her possessions "in a robbery". It later emerged that she had also developed an intense hatred of taxi drivers. In a rather childish way she started taking taxi rides, running oft without paying the fare, because "if people steal from you it is alright to steal from them". Whether this hatred was based on the unknown events of Wednesday, or whether it was purely an irrational schizophrenic episode, is a matter for conjecture.
On the morning of Sunday, October 14th, she attempted to take a taxi home to Tring. She tried to avoid paying the fare, and her behaviour on being caught was bizarre, to put it mildly. She was taken back to Aylesbury Police Station and held for a time under Section 156 of the Mental Health Act. By the time she was examined her behaviour had moderated, she was deemed sane, charged and released. Desperately worried about how she would ever raise the money to pay a fine she hailed another taxi, and while in it she attempted to rob the driver in a further series of bizarre incidents.
She spent the night in the Police cells at Aylesbury, and unfortunately she was so ashamed of herself that she specifically requested that her parents should not be told of her plight. She was in an extremely distressed and unco-operative condition when she appeared before the Aylesbury Magistrates, who asked for a psychiatric report and remanded her to Holloway. The police prosecutor was not prepared to accept a plea of guilty to lesser charges, but insisted that she appear before the Crown Court on a charge of attempted robbery. Because of these legal delays, and the extreme problems of getting psychiatric opinion and a hospital bed, she was held in Holloway until the middle of February. The Aylesbury Crown Court, under Justice Slack, approved her transfer to Hill End Hospital, St Albans, Herts, under a Section 57 order.
She spent the whole of her time in Holloway in either the notorious Cl wing for highly disturbed prisoners, or for shorter spell on the B4 wing for less disturbed prisoners. She spent about 12 weeks in solitary confinement in a strip cell, usually for a least 23 hours a day, with only a smelly foam mattress, a filthy blanket, and cockroaches for company. For most of this time, due to prison regulations, etc, she was even denied the companionship of a radio.
Lucy's reaction to these conditions was initially one of despair, and almost continuous chants of "Nobody loves me" emanated from her cell. Later, possibly through copying other prisoners, she developed a repertoire of attention seeking "games" which led to her being classified as violent because, for instance, she would not enter her cell when asked, but had to be forcibly carried in.
Such "violence" is not surprising. For some of the time she was in the cell next to Wendy Porter. Wendy was sentenced to life imprisonment for setting fire to a litter bin by the Aylesbury Crown Court only 4 days after Lucy was put on remand by Aylesbury Magistrates Court. Prior to being sentenced Wendy had never been violent, but after three months in Cl she was transferred to Moss Side Special Hospital by the Court o-f Appeal. The choice of hospital was dictated by the fact that she had become extremely violent. It is not certain whether Wendy copied Lucy, or the other way round, or whether both were copying other disturbed prisoners in Cl.
At about the time Wendy's appeal was being heard Lucy was actually being considered for the special hospital at Rampton. However a couple of days before the relevant psychiatrist saw her she suddenly calmed down. Finally it was recognised that she had been behaving like a caged wild animal because she was been treated like one — and a hospital bed was made available for her in an open ward.
Her progress in Hill End Hospital, St Albans, was excellent. Her Holloway induced aggression initially manifested itself in smashing windows, and steadily decreased almost to vanishing point. The symptoms of tardrive dyskinesia, caused by four months of indiscriminate drugging for containment purposes, started to disappear, although even at the end, 9 months after leaving Holloway, her hand writing had not completely returned to normal. After 4 months in hospital she was already spending considerable periods at home, and she became a voluntary patient in August.
In the autumn there were discussions about whether she moved to a hostel, or returned home, and also possible areas of employment were considered. For much of the time she was almost her old, happy self. Unfortunately there were still periods of deep depression when she thought about the way her spell in Holloway might affect her job prospects, particularly those involving working with children-
As the anniversary of her imprisonment approached she became more disturbed. She returned full time to Hill End, and there were several suicide attempts during the critical period. Once the anniversary had passed she calmed down and returned home. She appeared to be actively planning for the future, for instance by fixing up a job interview, and she started shopping for Christmas. On the morning of her fall she appeared to be her normal self. She went to Aylesbury with her mother, and apparently intended to withdraw some money from her building society account in order to buy Christmas presents. Why she strayed from the town centre onto the roof of the Civic Centre Car Park is a mystery, but it may have been triggered by some recollection of her earlier crisis in Aylesbury, and the effects that it had had on her life.