Bury St Edmunds: Mental health care of mum’s killer probed

AN independent inquiry is to be carried out into why a slaughterman who murdered a popular mother-of-three with a cattle gun was not previously detained under the Mental Health Act.

John McFarlane is serving 30 years for the murder last May of 38-year-old fitness instructor Mary Griffiths at her home in Bullrush Crescent, Bury St Edmunds.

McFarlane, of Bockhill Road, Bury, used an axe to to force his way into the home of Dublin-born Ms Griffiths before dragging her from her bed and shooting her repeatedly with a bolt-gun in front of her daughters.

She died later in hospital.

About an hour after the attack, McFarlane was arrested by police and taken to hospital with self-inflicted wounds. He was initially detained under the Mental Health Act and was deemed unfit to be quizzed by police about the incident.


You may also want to watch:


It later emerged that the 41-year-old had tried to take his own life in the days leading up to the attack, but mental health bosses at that stage decided he should not be detained for the safety of himself or others.

The contact McFarlane had with Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust (SMHPT) between his first suicide bid and Ms Griffiths’ murder is now to be the subject of an independent investigation.

Most Read

The probe will be carried out by a company commissioned by the region’s strategic health authority, NHS East of England.

A spokeswoman for NHS East of England last night said: “The purpose of the independent investigation is to thoroughly review the care and treatment received by John McFarlane in order to establish any lessons to be learned.

“This is done to minimise the possibility of a re-occurrence of similar events, and to make recommendations for the delivery of health services in the future.

“The investigation is internal to the NHS, a report will be produced and this will be published, and the NHS will act on any recommendations made by the investigation.

“NHS East of England has commissioned an independent company to undertake an independent investigation into the care and treatment of Mr McFarlane.

“The investigation is now under way and a report, detailing its findings, will be published once the investigation is completed.”

A spokeswoman for SMHPT, which has already conducted its own internal investigation, said: “The strategic health authority takes the decision about whether to proceed to an independent investigation and we will help this process in whichever way we can.”

Suffolk police’s handling of the case is also under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The IPCC opened its investigation shortly after Ms Griffiths’ death when it emerged she had called the police just hours before her murder, voicing concerns about McFarlane.

A spokeswoman for the IPCC said its findings would be published shortly.

laurence cawley

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus