Page last updated at 18:06 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 19:06 UK

Hammer killer's help plea ignored

Kenneth Auger
Kenneth Auger was subjected to a prolonged attack, the court heard

A man with bipolar disorder killed his neighbour with a claw hammer after his pleas to be admitted to hospital went unanswered, a court has heard.

Granville Jones, 61, had asked various organisations for help in the months before killing Kenneth Auger, 64.

Jones, of Twynyrodyn, Merthyr Tydfil, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The judge at Merthyr ordered Jones be detained under the Mental Health Act and urged a health authority inquiry.

Judge John Curran said: "There needs to be a review to avoid this kind of tragedy being repeated.

"The health authority should investigate the circumstances in which this defendant's behaviour and difficulty were not picked up on before this tragedy took place.

This tragedy could have and should have been avoided
Judge John Curran

"And there should, if necessary, be a review of procedures presently adopted for the treatment of potentially violent individuals suffering mental illness being treated in the community."

Prosecutor Peter Murphy QC had told the court that Jones, who had a history of bipolar disorder going back to 1970, attacked Mr Auger on 20 December, 2008.

He went to Tredegar General Hospital that night where he told staff he had taken an paracetamol overdose and thought he had killed his neighbour.

The nurses called police who went to Mr Auger's home and found him dead in the kitchen.

Jones told psychiatrists he had woken that day and felt he wanted to shut the world out, but Mr Auger knocked on his door.

Bungalow in Merthyr
Jones followed Mr Auger to his bungalow and attacked him

He said they had an argument about Christmas because Mr Auger was looking forward to it and had lots of greeting cards and visitors, and he did not.

Jones said he became increasingly angry and followed his neighbour to his bungalow where he attacked him.

Mr Murphy said Jones had been admitted to hospital with manic depression numerous times over the years and that his condition was exacerbated by not taking his medication.

He said not taking his medication led to fluctuations in mood. Jones had allegedly attacked police officers in 1971 and 1979 while going through psychotic episodes.

As early as October 2004, Jones had described persecutory thoughts towards Mr Auger to his GP, Mr Murphy said.

"On that occasion he was admitted to hospital and remedicated then, unfortunately, he was allowed to disengage with medical services," he said.

In 2007, Jones was disengaged from the community mental health team for failing to keep appointments.

He lost his job at a local Labour club after allegedly assaulting another worker.

Mr Murphy said "the signs were there, but not picked up".

Last October, Jones told the crisis team he was not coping at home, felt lonely and isolated, and he made threats towards his neighbour, Mr Murphy said.

It's clear his condition remained untreated and rapidly spiralled out of control
Peter Murphy QC

On 25 November he told his son he was desperate to be admitted to hospital.

His son contact the crisis team but they said they were no longer involved with Jones.

Two days before the killing, Jones contact the Seymour Barry mental health centre and spoke to his social worker about feeling lonely and depressed.

His social worker advised him to contact the crisis team, but he did not.

Mr Murphy said: "It's clear his condition remained untreated and rapidly spiralled out of control."

Greg Bull, defending, said: "One of the amazing factors is although he sought help in the months leading up to the commission of this terrible act, he was not afforded any help.

"If he had been taken into hospital at the time he urged it, if he had received the help he sought, this terrible event would never have occurred."

The judge said it was a "premeditated, prolonged and brutal killing".

He said Jones presented a serious, continuing risk of serious harm to the public and that he agreed with psychiatrists' reports that he would need careful monitoring for the rest of his life.

"This tragedy could have and should have been avoided," he said.

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