22 Mar 2017

Autistic man sobbed and howled in locked room, parents say

9:55 pm on 22 March 2017

Health authorities have agreed to move Ashley Peacock from a mental health unit to a house in a quiet rural location, his parents say.

Ashley Peacock, 38, has lived at the Tawhirimatea Unit run by Capital & Coast District Health Board in Porirua for nearly 10 years.

Mr Peacock is autistic with complex health needs and lives in a secure unit, in a room about 3 metres by 4m.

The parents of an autistic man who spends most of his day locked in (isolation) an isolated mental health unit, are demanding his release, saying he is not a risk.

Ashley Peacock Photo: SUPPLIED / David Peacock

His parents, Dave and Marlena Peacock, said he spent most of the day locked in the room.

Mr Peacock's father said they knew that kind of institution would be the wrong place for his specific needs. They fought to get him moved to a secure house in the country.

A report from the Chief Ombudsman has said his living situation was cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and he should be urgently moved.

Mr and Mrs Peacock appeared before the health select committee this morning where they asked MPs to monitor his case.

Mrs Peacock's voice cracked as she described the most difficult period for the family, between 2010-2013.

"We would often hear heart-wrenching sobs and animal-like howls, but were prevented from making direct contact, often for weeks. And then when contact was allowed, watching him crawl around the floor, with faeces in his nails."

She said they felt helpless, powerless and endured sleepless nights.

Mr Peacock's parents told the committee that the DHB and Ministry of Health had agreed to their son being relocated to a house in a quiet rural location in the future, managed by a disability support service.

They urged MPs to ensure this happened in a timely way.

It was last chance for their son, they said, who had spent 17 years in inappropriate care, including long periods in seclusion.

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