Friday 15 December 2017

NHS 'failed my murdered daughter'

Mother devastated after report let health trust off hook

Ben Kendall and  Edel O'Connell

THE grieving mother of an Irish woman murdered in her own home by a man who was under the care of the mental health services in England at the time has said her daughter was let down "at every level".

Mother-of-three Mary Griffiths (38) was murdered at her Suffolk home on May 6, 2009, by John McFarlane (41).

McFarlane -- who had a 15-year history of mental illness -- was under the care of the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust and worked in a slaughterhouse. He also worked at the gym where Ms Griffiths, originally from Glasnevin, Dublin, was a fitness instructor. He took revenge after Ms Griffiths posted a Facebook message saying he was "delusional" if he thought they would ever have a relationship.


McFarlane smashed through the back door of her home in Bury St Edmunds with an axe as she and her three daughters slept.

He dragged Mrs Griffiths from the room and shot her twice in the chest and once in the left shoulder with a bolt gun normally used for stunning livestock.

"She called the police the night before it happened, as she was worried, but nobody came," her mother Kitty Ryan told the Irish Independent last night.

"She was so let down by the police and the mental health services. That man stalked my daughter and she was frightened."

In March, the British Independent Police Complaints Commission said in a report that officers should have been sent to Mrs Griffiths' home after she called them the night before she was killed. Had an officer visited Ms Griffiths, her knowledge of his mental health history may have been flagged up, they added.

Yesterday, the findings of an independent inquiry into the care of McFarlane, commissioned by the NHS, revealed that a decision not to section him three days before the killing was "reasonable".

It found that although the risk McFarlane posed to himself had escalated in the months leading up to the killing, mental health professionals had no reason to suspect he would harm others. McFarlane, also from Bury St Edmunds, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years in November 2009 after he admitted murdering Ms Griffiths. Mrs Ryan said she was devastated by the findings of the NHS inquiry and described her eldest daughter, who emigrated to Britain when she was 19, as a "wonderful, angel who lived for her children".

Ms Griffiths married after moving to England and had three children but divorced in 2006. The children are now being raised by their father.

Mrs Ryan said her daughter also knew McFarlane's wife. The NHS Midlands and East report concluded: "The tragic murder was not predictable and although with the benefit of hindsight the admission to hospital... would most likely have prevented the offence at the time, this could not have been identified at any time by the various mental health professionals."

Dr Hadrian Ball, Suffolk Mental Health Trust medical director, said: "Although it is of little comfort to Mary Griffiths' loved ones, the report concludes that her tragic murder could not have been predicted."

Irish Independent

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