Inquest hears concerns were raised about killer grandson before he stabbed grandfather

John McGrath, 81, Stapleford stabbing victim.
John McGrath, 81, Stapleford stabbing victim.

Concerns were raised by mental health workers about the ongoing deterioration of a mentally ill man months before he stabbed his grandfather to death, an inquest heard.

Nottinghamshire Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday from psychiatric nurse Jim Smith who was involved in the care of William Barnard, of Stapleford, who killed his 81-year-old grandfather John McGrath in 2009.

Barnard, of Wesley Place, Stapleford, who is a diagnosed schizophrenic, later admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

He was ordered to be detained indefinitely at Rampton high-security hospital in 2010.

Mr Smith told the coroner’s court that he met Mr Barnard face-to-face once in January 2009 at his flat in Stapleford where he exhibited “bizarre” behaviours.

According to Mr Smith, Mr Barnard said he was conducting homemade experiments to create what he called “the essence of ether”.

He added: “It was apparent to me that he wasn’t well at the time.”

According to Mr Smith, a subsequent visit was made to Mr Barnard’s home on April 9, 2009, to carry out a mental health assessment.

He did not answer the door to mental health workers and on April 20 a meeting was held to discuss Mr Barnard’s case.

It was agreed a review would take place to discuss his case in six weeks’ time.

However according to Mr Smith: “My recollection is that didn’t happen.”

A letter was sent to Mr Barnard requesting he engaged with mental health workers, which he failed to respond to.

His mother however had been in contact and expressed concerns about his welfare.

While conversations had been made discussing sectioning Mr Barnard, the action was not pursued further.

Mr Smith said: “It was felt on balance there wasn’t enough information to do that, to take that course of action.

“The plan instead was to have a Mental Health Act assessment.”

Mr Smith visited Mr Barnard’s home again on July 24, the day he killed his grandfather, alongside Dr Nithyananda Prasad to carry out a mental health assessment.

When they appeared at the door, they found a note warning them to leave, alongside a picture of a magic eye.

The front door handle according to Mr Smith appeared to be covered in dried blood.

In an attempt to track down Mr Barnard, Mr Smith said he spoke to both a local pharmacist as well as Mr McGrath, who said he had seen his grandson earlier that week.

During his visit Mr Barnard had said he suspected Mr McGrath was part of a conspiracy group involving the emergency services and the mental health services.

However Mr Smith said at that point he felt Mr McGrath was not in danger.

He said: “My opinion was that I wasn’t aware of any risk at that time to us or other people, other than this case of mistaken identity.

“I was really concerned about the (Mr Barnard’s) risk to himself in terms of his procedure of treatment.”

The inquest continues.