Mother knew son’s life was at risk once he fled mental health unit, inquest told

A mother whose son fled from a mental health unit and was struck by a train was “in disbelief as to how he could have got out”, an inquest heard.

Jayden Booroff, 23, had been sectioned twice within weeks when he left the Linden Centre in Chelmsford in Essex on the evening of October 23, 2020.

He died on a train line later that evening.

His mother, Michelle Booroff, said in a statement read by the coroner at the inquest into his death that she received a call at 8.05pm saying he had absconded.

“I knew when I got the first phone call from the Linden Centre at 8.05pm that Jayden’s life was at risk,” she said.

She added that she “was in disbelief as to how he could have got out”.

She said she had spoken to him on the phone while he was at the unit in the days before and had “never heard him that unwell”.

Ms Booroff described searching around Chelmsford for her son and said a member of staff at the train station, where she feared he may have gone, had told her: “Not another one from the Linden Centre.”

Jayden Booroff
Jayden Booroff (Family handout/PA)

Ms Booroff said: “The message I got that night was ‘not another one from the Linden Centre’.

“I feel the Linden Centre failed him in his care.”

She said her son had been a “bright child, very creative and talented musically” and was involved with amateur dramatics groups.

She said he started smoking cannabis in his teens and she had “warned him against smoking cannabis”.

“A family member has schizophrenia and I was worried smoking cannabis might have a detrimental effect on Jayden and his mental health,” she said.

She said that her son dropped out of Mountview College, a drama school in south London, in about 2017 and “stopped taking care of himself and just didn’t seem himself”.

She said that he got a job at a restaurant and would say his colleagues “were witches”, and he would also “stay up in the garden telling me he could see green lights in the sky”.

“He could talk for hours about the universe, not making much sense,” she said, adding that he said he “did an exorcism on the house”.

He also messaged a friend to say “someone was reading his mind and he was the chosen one to deliver the soul contracts”.

She described seeking help for him but that “he refused to engage and said he didn’t need any help”.

Sonia Hayes, the area coroner for Essex, told jurors at Monday’s hearing in Chelmsford: “Jayden had a history of mental health issues and his mother was raising concerns he was suffering a crisis.”

Ms Hayes said Mr Booroff was twice sectioned and was first detained at The Lakes mental health hospital in Colchester in September 2020.

He was released and then detained at the Linden Centre in Chelmsford in October 2020 after he was sectioned for a second time.

Mr Booroff had been staying with a “trusted friend” in Bristol in October when was sectioned for the second time, the coroner said.

His mental health had deteriorated and he was taken to an accident emergency unit in Bristol and sectioned, then transferred to Essex.

He was admitted to the Linden Centre on October 20, 2020 and “managed to leave” on the evening of October 23, the coroner said.

A train driver said, in a statement read by the coroner, that he was driving a passenger train from Harwich International to London Liverpool Street on October 23.

The driver said he left Chelmsford train station on time at 9.40pm and had reached a speed of “around 60mph” when, at around 9.45pm, he saw someone, “heard a bang” and used the emergency brake.

He said he “believed this was a deliberate act by the person to be struck by the train”.

Mr Booroff was identified by his fingerprints, the coroner said.

Aimee Brackfield, a public law expert from Simpson Millar solicitors, who is supporting Jayden’s family at the inquest, said outside the hearing: “It’s been over two years since Jayden passed away under truly tragic circumstances.

“His family now hopes this inquest will help them to understand the circumstances leading up to his death, including the care he received while at the Linden Centre.”

The inquest, due to last two weeks, continues.