The father of the man who is accused of shooting Councillor James Nash has said he was “‘very let down” over his son’s treatment by mental health professionals.

John Sartain said that he had made them aware of his son Alex’s deteriorating mental state in July, and asked for him to be sectioned. However, he was told that this wouldn’t be possible. “They said: “No, we can’t do anything unless he’s committed a crime or was a threat to life”,” Mr Sartain said.

“Well at that stage he wasn’t, but obviously within two weeks he’s taken a life. I just find that hard to believe that after being sectioned twice, no one actually bothered to make a call to follow it up.”

Mr Sartain’s son, Alex, was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and is said to have become convinced that Cllr Nash and his wife were spying on him. He is accused of shooting Cllr Nash, who subsequently died in hospital, before fleeing on a motorbike which crashed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was speaking to BBC Radio Four’s File on 4, which this week is investigating ‘Mental disorder and killings that could have been prevented.’

He said that a visit to see his son would have made a difference, saying: “all it would have taken was to send someone over here and have a look themselves.”

Having been sectioned twice in 2019, a mental health visitor did come for a twice-yearly check-up in June, but did not see Alex. Instead, she only spoke to Mr Sartain, who warned her that his son’s condition was “getting worse,” to which he was told, “that’s sort [of] about normal.”

He said Alex began to deteriorate more sharply the next month, when he tried to ask for further help. Mr Sartain said that “in hindsight,” Alex did not receive the standard of care required since his diagnosis. “Not at all,” he said. “I mean, he was never in their care for very long, it seemed.”

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has said it is “reviewing our own contact with Mr Sartain and his family.”

Inquests into the deaths of both Cllr Nash and Alex Sartain were opened in August, with the coroner set to rule in April.

To hear John Sartain’s full interview, you can listen to File on 4 at 8pm on BBC Radio 4 tonight.