In France, Killer Gets Off, Therapist Convicted

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    Dec 20, 2012 4:39 PM GMT
    http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2012/12/20/killer-gets-off-therapist-convicted/?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines

    In France on Tuesday, a psychiatrist was sentenced to a year in prison for failing to recognize the risk that her patient would later harm someone.

    Joel Gaillard, her patient for four years, apparently hacked 80-year-old Germain Trabuc to death with an ax less than three weeks after running off from a session with his therapist, according to Reuters. But while the shrink is headed for incarceration, Gaillard himself was released under medical supervision. The victim’s son expressed the hope that the case would set a precedent, “move psychiatry forward and, above all, that it will never happen again.”

    This case, which will seem remarkable to Americans, is reminiscent of the scientists convicted in Italy of failing to warn of earthquake risk. And it raises questions about the limits of professional responsibility, and just how severe the consequences should be when those of us in positions of authority mess up (assuming the psychiatrist really did so). It also raises the perennial question of how we should handle (or even recognize) people with potentially dangerous mental illnesses.
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    Dec 20, 2012 4:57 PM GMT

    The therapist received a suspended sentence.

    The patient is now in a psychiatric hospital.

    Apparently, the patient fled from a session and then committed the crime. The therapist failed to alert authorities when the patient bolted.

    2004
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    Dec 20, 2012 10:04 PM GMT
    The full story:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-france-murder-psychiatrist-idUSBRE8BH13X20121218

    A French psychiatrist whose patient hacked an elderly man to death was found guilty of manslaughter on Tuesday in a groundbreaking case that could affect the way patients are treated.

    A court in Marseilles said Daniele Canarelli, 58, had committed a "grave error" by failing to recognize the public danger posed by Joel Gaillard, her patient of four years.

    Gaillard hacked to death 80-year-old Germain Trabuc with an axe in March 2004 in Gap, in the Alps region of southeastern France, 20 days after fleeing a consultation with Canarelli at Marseilles's Edouard Toulouse hospital.

    Canarelli was handed a one-year prison sentence and ordered to pay 8,500 euros to the victim's children, in the first case of its kind in France. Defense lawyers said the ruling would have serious repercussions for treatment of the mentally ill.

    "If a psychiatrist lives in fear of being sentenced, it will have very real consequences and probably lead to harsher treatment of patients," said Canarelli's lawyer, Sylvain Pontier.

    The court said Canarelli should have requested Gaillard be placed in a specialized medical unit or referred him to another medical team, as one of her colleagues suggested. Her stubborn refusal had equated to a form of "blindness", the court president Fabrice Castoldi said.

    Gaillard had already been forcibly committed to a secure hospital on several occasions for a series of increasingly dangerous incidents.

    The victim's son, Michel Trabuc, said he hoped the case would set a legal precedent.

    "There's no such thing as zero risk, but I hope this will move psychiatry forward and, above all, that it will never happen again," he said.

    Gaillard was not held responsible for his actions and was freed under medical supervision.
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    Dec 20, 2012 10:06 PM GMT
    ...actually that's not nearly the full story. icon_wink.gif
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    Dec 21, 2012 12:40 AM GMT
    Maybe if HSBC was a French bank, someone would have gone to prison. icon_wink.gif