Case Of Second Vanished Kingseat Patient Emerges
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 10, 2004
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND--Judy Sorich and John Mitchell want police to reopen an investigation into the disappearance of their brother, Bruce Charles Mitchell.
Bruce was a teenage patient at Kingseat Hospital in 1967 when he walked away from the facility and was never heard from again.
Even though no body was recovered, Bruce's death certificate indicated he drowned, presumably in nearby Manukau Harbour.
Bruce was admitted as a young teen to the institution for psychiatric treatment while he recovered from severe burns to 90 percent of his body. He told family members, however, that he was beaten regularly by patients and staff members.
"Every time we went to see him he was covered in bruises," John Mitchell told the New Zealand Herald. "We were sure he was being beaten, but were always told by hospital staff he had walked into a door."
Bruce Mitchell's case is strikingly similar to the case of Kelly Haydn Collins, who also disappeared from Kingseat in 1967 at age 13. Collins reportedly walked away from the institution after receiving electric shock treatment. Like Mitchell, Collins' body was not recovered either, but he is listed as having drowned, presumably in the same harbor.
More than 200 people have come forward in recent months to file complaints against the government, claiming they were mistreated in New Zealand's psychiatric institutions during the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the complainants, who were between 8 and 16 years of age at the time, said that they were heavily over-medicated, unwillingly subjected to electro-shock treatment, and placed in isolation for long periods of time -- sometimes for months.
Dozens of legal claims have been filed in the High Court, each asking for as much as $500,000 in compensation and up to $50,000 in exemplary damages. The government has expressed an interest in resolving the complaints.
Until a few months ago, officials had believed the abuses were confined to two former institutions. As more claimants came forward, nearly all of the country's psychiatric hospitals had been implicated. Most of the facilities either are closed or no longer operate as mental institutions.
Last month, the government announced that it paid an average of $47,000 to 88 people to compensate them for the mistreatment they suffered while at the child and adolescent unit of Lake Alice Hospital.
The average age of the patients at the time of the alleged abuse was 11 years.
"Brother's misery torments sister" (New Zealand Herald)
"Culture Of Abuse At Former New Zealand Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)