Bury St Edmunds: Murdered mum’s family say they feel let down by mental heath trust

THE family of a murder victim who was let down by a mental health trust last night said nothing will ever compensate them for their tragic loss.

Relatives of Mary Griffiths, who was shot dead at her Bury St Edmunds home by mental health patient John McFarlane in May 2009, expressed their regret at the lack of action by Suffolk’s mental health team.

It comes in light of a report that highlighted the trusts failings in the wake of this and eight other similar homicide cases allegedly involving people who have sought help from the service plus a suicide at Wedgwood House, at West Suffolk Hospital

Her sister Irene Ryan, said: “We, Mary’s family, feel let down by Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust. We believe John McFarlane should have been sectioned, and if he had been sectioned this may have prevented Mary’s death.”

Since the attack, it has emerged McFarlane, a 41-year-old slaughterman, had tried to take his own life in the days leading up to the killing, but at that stage mental health bosses decided he should not be detained for the safety of himself or others. He was, however, temporarily detained immediately after with self-inflicted wounds.


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A separate review is now underway into the events leading up to the death and Ms Ryan said: “We are awaiting the findings of this investigation, but nothing will ever compensate our family for the loss of our beloved Mary.”

McFarlane is serving 30 years for the murder of the 38-year-old fitness instructor following a conviction in November 2009.

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During the trial it was revealed McFarlane used an axe to break into Ms Griffiths’s home in Bullrush Crescent before dragging her from her bed and shooting her repeatedly with a bolt-gun in front of her daughters.

Chief executive Aidan Thomas yesterday acknowledged the key findings of the independent review, including failings in the way health records were kept, the way risk assessments were carried out and the way patients with multiple problems were dealt with and said changes had already been implemented.

He is also leading the way in establishing single action plans for each of the deaths. Last night, he added: “I would like to extend condolences to Mary Griffiths’s friends and family, as well as to all those who have been affected in this or any other case.

“The Strategic Heath Authority has commissioned an independent investigation into the events leading up to Ms Griffiths’ death and our staff are providing information for this as the independent team reviews the case.

“The new systems and processes we are putting in will ensure that any further recommendations will be carried out. I would be keen to involve families, including Ms Griffiths’s family if they would like to, in looking at these changes.”

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