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Inmate Day Leave Cancelled After Fatal Stabbings at Thomas Embling Hospital


KILLERS, rapists and other criminally insane patients are walking the streets of Melbourne on outings to the movies, fishing and shopping.
The controversial leave pass program at the Thomas Embling Hospital was hastily shut down after inmate Peko Lakovski allegedly committed a gruesome double murder with a carving knife.
Lakovski was considered a low security risk and allowed out on day leave, the Herald Sun reports.
Almost a third of the inmates at the 118-bed facility in Fairfield have been approved for unescorted leave in the past year.
The hospital sanctioned 8900 leave passes in 2008-09, most of them supervised trips for court and medical reasons.
The hospital houses mentally ill patients including some offenders referred from the criminal justice system.
Inmates include killers, sex offenders, arsonists and even a man who attempted to hijack a commercial plane.
But the system allows the inmates to graduate from supervised walks within the grounds to unescorted visits to public locations.
A 2003 report said on a given day more than a dozen inmates are walking the streets near the hospital.
Embattled Minister for Mental Health Lisa Neville was forced to order a snap review of the hospital's internal processes after admitting that "something has gone wrong in this particular case".
Ms Neville could not explain how patients in a secure psychiatric hospital, many of whom have killed before and are suffering with schizophrenia, had access to knives.
Ms Neville has overseen a series of major departmental bungles in recent months including the shocking incest case with a man accused of fathering children with his daughter over a 30-year period.
The day leave program at Thomas Embling Hospital was cancelled after the alleged rampage left two people dead.
The frenzied attacks were sparked by an argument between two room-mates and fishing buddies.
Lakovski, 59 is facing charges of fatally stabbing Paul Notas, 36, and Raymond Splatt, 54.
Police will allege Lakovski went on a stabbing rampage with a carving knife about 11pm on Wednesday in a low-security residential area of the hospital after getting into an argument with Splatt.
It was alleged he then went to another room and repeatedly stabbed Notas.
The Department of Human Services increased security at the site in January but arrangements are again under review.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the "safety and security" of the community must be put ahead of the rehabilitation of patients.
Since the hospital opened in 2000, at least three inmates have escaped with a further 15 absconding while on day leave.
Escapes by killers Neville Garden and Robert Debruyn while on the leave sparked major manhunts.
Others on day release to escape include sex offender Sean Broaders and Peter John Evans, who both slipped their minders at the Austin Hospital.
A hospital insider told the Herald Sun in 2007 that David Mark Robinson, who tried to hijack a Qantas jet in May 2003, walked out of the hospital without minders.
Robinson was armed with sharpened wooden stakes, a cigarette lighter and aerosol cans to use as flame-throwers when he threatened staff on the Melbourne-Launceston flight.
A cabin manager and flight attendant thwarted his attempt to kill all 56 passengers.
There has been a significant increase in inmates applying for leave in the past decade.
The report into Wednesday night's rampage is expected to focus on the decision to allow Lakovski to move into Jardine Unit, which has the lowest level of security in the facility.
Victoria's chief psychiatrist, Ruth Vine, admitted the leave assessment process was "not a perfect science" as it involved factors with regard to the patient and the community.
All of the patients in the Jardine Unit are under active consideration for release.
Dr Vine said patients must undergo a clinical assessment before they are moved to the unit, which has no security camera and allows patients access to kitchen knives.

Herald Sun (6-11-2009)
Stephen McMahon/ Anthony Dowsley

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