The son-in-law of a couple stabbed to death in their Portadown home said their killer “should have been taken seriously” when he tried to get mental health help before the attack.
Michael and Marjorie Cawdery, both aged 83, died in May 2017 after Thomas Scott McEntee broke into their home in Upper Ramone Park.
An inquest today (Monday) heard how McEntee, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, had sought help at hospitals in Belfast, Newry and Craigavon, according to a report by BBC News NI.
Charles Little, who is married to the couple’s daughter Wendy, said that although the family could not forgive McEntee, a “system where only the ill man is held culpable” was not his idea of justice and he wanted the inquest to uncover the truth.
Giving evidence, Mr Little said he was in the garden – their house was next door to the Cawderys – when he saw a man walking past him holding Mr Cawdery’s car keys.
The man got into the car and drove off at high speed, hitting the side of the house and crashing through closed gates.
Mr Little went inside and found Mr and Mrs Cawdery rolled up in rugs on the floor, and he and his wife attempted to perform First Aid.
The inquest was told the couple died of their injuries, which included haemorrhaging from multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma.
Focusing on the five-day period between May 22 and 26, the inquest heard that at the start of the week, McEntee called police on 999 to report that he was being chased.
He was interviewed at Musgrave PSNI station and police expressed concern for his mental health.
His sister agreed to collect him but McEntee left the station against police advice and was later taken to Belfast’s Mater Hospital for assessment.
On May 25, police were called to Warrenpoint due to concerns about his behaviour. Mr McEntee agreed to travel to Lurgan and police gave him a lift to Newry Train Station.
However, he did not board a train and the following day, police responded to reports of a naked man close to the station.
Police discovered McEntee had walked into Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.
He adopted a “fighting stance” as police tried to speak to him and was punched twice by a PSNI officer, before he was brought to the ground and handcuffed.
Daisy Hill staff came to help and it was decided McEntee should be taken by ambulance to Craigavon Area Hospital, where he could be more easily admitted to the Bluestone Unit.
Police followed the ambulance to Craigavon and, on arrival, officers asked if they were required to stay.
Paramedics told police they would not be needed and McEntee was admitted to the emergency department for assessment.
The coroner was told that a health worker attempted to take blood from the patient, but when she did so, McEntee pulled the needle out and walked out of the hospital.
He then stole a bottle of wine from an off-licence before making his way to the Cawderys’ home.
The coroner was told that staff at Craigavon implemented the Southern Health Trust’s absconding procedure after he went missing.
Mr McEntee is serving a minimum of 10 years in prison for the murders.
The inquest continues.