The Psychiatric Report on Jens Soering by Dr John Hamilton, 11 December 1986

Posted below is the psychiatric report prepared about Jens Soering by consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr John Hamilton, Medical Director of Broadmoor Hospital, at the end of 1986 after four meetings with him. Unfortunately it is not possible on this site to embed a PDF file, but clicking on the link will open the report.

It should be remembered that Dr Hamilton was hired by Soering’s lawyers and paid by his parents. In the course of his duties he also interviewed Elizabeth Haysom, probably only once, but she was neither his patient nor his client. His only role in the case was therefore to provide evidence helpful to Soering, then at risk of execution in Virginia, not Haysom. He was not in any sense a neutral party.

It will be seen that much of Hamilton’s report relies on Soering’s own account of events, which was inevitably self-serving. However, within appropriate limits he did his best to be of service, and at page 9 he speculates about Haysom’s mental state. It is notable that, recognising he was professionally on dangerous ground, Hamilton was extremely careful and tentative in his proffered views: “…may have had…”; “It is by no means rare…”; “…cases have been reported…”; “It is possible that…”; “…he now believes…”; and so on. This was a man clearly unwilling to make firm statements of professional opinion that he knew he could not support if called to account in a court of law.

Yet despite Dr Hamilton’s best efforts on his behalf, there was still much in the report that Soering would not have wanted people to see because it provides considerable insight into his mental functioning while also exposing his miasma of subsequent lies. Nevertheless, in Mortal Thoughts he did not seek to repudiate the report in any way: on the contrary, he embraced it, presumably confident that he could refer to it selectively and discuss without challenge only the parts he thought might advance his case. It was also made available to his lawyers, the German prosecutor and the European Court of Human Rights, among others, but the full report hasn’t seen the light of day for many years.

Until now.


Report of Dr John Hamilton, 11 December 1986