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How the side effects of brain injury left one man in prison

A young man who was attacked with a hammer, which left him with a brain injury, caused him to commit a crime.

Byron Schofield had only just turned 19 when he was attacked by a group of men without warning.

He suffered a brain injury and was finally discharged from hospital six months later but he had lost strength from the left side of his body and his short-term memory was poor.

Doctors recommended Byron moved to a specialist centre for further treatment but there was no room so his mother became his full-time carer.

Eventually, Byron moved into his own flat and, three months after moving in, he attended a party at a friend's house. A group of people, who resembled the men who had attacked him, were also there.

Although Byron doesn't remember much of the attack which caused his brain injury, he couldn't stop himself starting a fight. The police were called and he was arrested.

The lack of control of his emotions and impulses was one of the 'invisible effects' of his brain injury and so Byron was kept in prison awaiting trial.

Due to his left-side weakness, Byron needed help washing and dressing and his cellmate had to carry his food for him.

A study by Dr Ivan Pitman of the Disabilities Trust found almost half of the UK's adult male prison population may have suffered a brain injury.

Seven months after his arrest, a representative from the Disabilities Trust declared Byron was too ill to serve a prison sentence and was sent for treatment at the specialist centre instead where he wasn't allowed to leave without permission.

Ruth Wright, Senior Solicitor and Head of the Court of Protection department, said:

Brain injury is often invisible and frequently results in the sort of difficulties that are described in this article.

From our experience of working with brain injured clients, it is not unusual for them to have a brush in with the law but with the right support and therapy in place they can make real progress and achieve their potential. We try to ensure that they don’t have to end up in prison to get the rehabilitation that they need.

A recent report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on brain injury states that someone is admitted to an emergency department with a head injury every three minutes.

If one in every 100 of these patients end up in prison, it would equate to 1,750 people entering the prison system every year.

Ruth Wright is a senior solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Ruth or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.