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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Cumbrian axe killer: Agencies to face scrutiny

Police and mental health bosses in Cumbria will face scrutiny over their work with a man who killed his mother and sister with an axe.

John Jenkin photo
John Jenkin

John Jenkin, 24, killed his mother Alice McMeekin, 58, sister Kathryn Jenkin, 20, who was known as Katie, and the family dog, on June 8 last year at the home he shared with his mother on Newton Street, Millom.

Two days before the killings Jenkin had told a van driver near Millom Pier that he planned to kill his mother and was found by police acting erratically at Hodbarrow nature reserve.

Officers took him to Dane Garth in Barrow where he was assessed by psychiatric staff. A treatment plan was drawn up but he was not detained.

David Roberts, senior coroner for north and West Cumbria, said yesterday that he would examine the actions of the police and psychiatric staff on June 6 and whether they had a bearing on what happened later.

He added: “The proximity of both the police and the trust’s involvement with him so close to the time of death of these two ladies seems to me to be a very important factor.

“The other issue is, on a true assessment of this man’s presentation, whether indeed there was a real and immediate risk of death to another person.”

The health trust carried out a serious untoward incident review after the deaths.

Steven Wade, representing the trust, said an action plan from that was expected in the coming days.

At a pre-inquest review, Mr Roberts said he would commission a report from an independent psychiatrist in addition to the trust’s own report.

The inquest could hear from nearly 30 people, including Garry Dixon, the mental health worker who assessed Jenkin, and the police officers who first dealt with him.

The inquest is expected to run for up to a week and is likely to be scheduled in late November or early December. Full witness details will be agreed at a further review in October. It is not yet known whether Jenkin will be called to give evidence.

Jenkin is serving a life sentence, with a minimum tariff of 13 years and four months, at Ashworth Secure Hospital in Merseyside.

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