Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-hero-church-warden,-88,-who-stopped-paranoid-schizophrenic-from-killing-shoppers-was-beaten-to-death-by-her-with-wine-bottles-and-fire-extinguisher-as-he-saved-them,-inquest-hearsAlert – Hero church warden, 88, who stopped paranoid schizophrenic from killing shoppers was beaten to death by her with wine bottles and fire extinguisher as he saved them, inquest hears

Paranoid schizophrenic released from hospital killed a hero church warden with wine bottles and a fire extinguisher, an inquest has been told.

Grandfather John Rees, 88, was brutally beaten to death when he tried to intervene as Zara Radcliffe launched a knife attack inside a village Co-Op store. 

The killer had been under the care of mental health services but was released from hospital before the attack.

The mother-of-one later admitted manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility after battering Mr Rees to death as his childhood sweetheart wife Eunice, 87, waited outside in the car for him to return with the groceries. 

And in an ‘unusual’ inquest, the focus will be on Radcliffe, her care and whether she should have been let out of hospital ‘rather than the deceased’. 

The church warden was killed by the 34-year-old in May 2020 when he bravely stepped in to try and stop her attacking nurse Gaynor Saurin with a knife inside the village shop in Penygraig, South Wales.

Radcliffe beat defenceless Mr Rees with a bottle until it broke before using another to hit him in the face and head 21 times as he lay on the floor.

Coroner Graeme Hughes said the post mortem examination revealed the death was caused by ‘severe blunt force facial injuries by some 23 heavy blows from wine bottles and three heavy blows from a fire extinguisher.’

Radcliffe was then arrested inside the shop and later sentenced to a hospital order in October 2020. 

Mr Hughes said: ‘John was a private, quiet, and humble man, satisfied to concentrate his love on Eunice, his grandchildren and All Saints Church where he was a warden and had been ringing the bells on a Thursday night.’ 

It comes after an independent review said ‘warning signs’ of Radcliffe’s ‘rapid deterioration’ were apparent months before the attack.

The report said the dangers were either ‘not recognised or poorly processed’ and there was ‘no negotiated crisis plan’ before she was discharged from hospital.

The review, commissioned by Cwm Taf Morgannwg Safeguarding Board, made seven recommendations following the frenzied attack in Penygraig in the Rhondda, South Wales.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board apologised for ‘any instances in which her care fell short’.

Chief executive Paul Mears called it ‘a tragic case that has impacted upon the lives of many people’.

He said: ‘We apologise to Miss Radcliffe and her family for any instances in which her care fell short of the high standards we set ourselves.

‘We requested this external review to ensure all opportunities for learning and improvement could be identified.’

Mr Rees was posthumously awarded the Queens medal for gallantry and prosecutor Michael Jones KC told the hearing that Mr Rees’s efforts to stop Radcliffe was ‘a selfless and brave act which cost him his life’.

As well as the attack on Mr Rees, Radcliffe also pleaded guilty to three charges of attempted murder of Lisa Way, 53, Mr Price, 58, and Ms Saurin. 

Church warden Mr Rees was described as ‘the very definition of a good man, extremely respected and liked in the community’ by his family.

The inquest, set to last four days, continues.

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