Killer's mum claims he 'was failed'

A SCHIZOPHRENIC who came off his medication just weeks before decapitating his friend just wanted to “be like normal people”, his mother last night revealed.

A SCHIZOPHRENIC who came off his medication just weeks before decapitating his friend just wanted to “be like normal people”, his mother last night revealed.

Those who knew 54-year-old Garnet Hooper, who admitted manslaughter on Thursday at Norwich Crown Court, described him as a kind and gentle man.

Hooper now faces an indefinite spell at a secure psychiatric unit for killing his friend Graham Rayner in the garage of his home on May 24 this year.

Hooper, who has a 20-year history of mental illness, decapitated 64-year-old Mr Rayner before calmly placing his body in the back of a green Austin Montego.

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Suffolk Police pulled Hooper over at Red Lodge, near Barton Mills, where they made the grisly discovery in the boot of his car.

The case has left the families of both men devastated. And both families claim Hooper was failed by the health system.

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About two months before Mr Rayner's death, Hooper reportedly told people he had ceased taking medication for his condition because he claimed it made him feel tired.

Speaking from her home in Woodditton, near Newmarket, Hooper's elderly mother Joyce pleaded for understanding of her son's condition.

Mrs Hooper said: “He was failed. We are traumatised, as I am sure you can imagine. It has been such a difficult time.

“He was a talented engineer, it is so sad.

“He wanted to come off his medication to be like normal people. It has been so distressing. He is such a nice man.”

Hooper, of Station Road in Attlebridge, and Mr Rayner, of Taverham, shared a passion for classic motorbikes.

George Harmer, who runs the Norfolk Motorcycle Museum in North Walsham, knew both men and told how the region's biking fraternity was shocked by what had happened.

He said: “Graham was a nice chap and I got on well with him. I didn't know Garnet so well but he was into his classic bikes and he bought a few items from us.

“We knew all the parties involved and got on well with them. It was such a shock.”

The family of Mr Rayner have demanded answers to questions they have about Hooper's mental health care.

In a statement, the family said: “We are keen that questions are asked of the mental health services procedure and of the individuals concerned with his welfare. Lessons are to be learned to stop families going through what we are.”

Keith Simpson, MP for Mid Norfolk, in whose constituency both Hooper and Mr Rayner had lived, said: “It is a tragedy for all concerned, but there are other potential cases out there like this.”

He added previous investigations into similar cases revealed no single organisation had taken direct responsibility.

He said this needed to change but warned: “You may have to accept the fact that there are cases that will inevitably go wrong, but you have to keep coming back and looking closely at the systems in place.”

Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership Trust has carried out an internal examination of the care Hooper received and a spokeswoman said information relating to Hooper had been passed to the police.

This information, the spokeswoman said, will now be shared with the families of both Hooper and Mr Rayner and with the East of England Strategic Health Authority, which may choose to conduct its own inquiry.

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