Sisters of man who killed parents say broken mental health services contributed to deaths

The sisters of a man who killed their elderly parents in a horror knife attack during a “psychotic episode” say they believe broken mental health services contributed to the deaths.

Sally and Lucie Andrews told a sentencing hearing for James Andrews (pictured), known as Duncan, that their parents – Bryan Andrews, 79, and Mary Andrews, 76 – may still be alive if their brother had been properly diagnosed and treated for his mental health problems.

Sally Andrews told Sheffield Crown Court how she and her family spent two years trying to get appropriate treatment for her brother, now 52, as his behaviour became increasingly irrational.

The court heard how this culminated on November 27, 2022 at Mr and Mrs Andrews’s detached home in Terrey Road, Totley, Sheffield, when their son killed them in what was described as frenzied attack during a “psychotic episode” using a German bayonet.

The court heard how Mrs Andrews suffered 82 stabs wounds and her husband also had multiple injuries.

A judge was told that Andrews said to officers who arrested him using a Taser to restrain him: “I just killed my mum and dad.”

David Brooke KC, prosecuting, told the court that Andrews later said he had been hearing voices for months and that “God had made him do what he had done”.

Sally Andrews read a victim personal statement to the court, saying: “We weren’t made victims on November 27, we have been victims of a broken health and social service for at least two years, if not more.

“Medical letters my brother received outline some of the failures, stating he ‘fell in between services’, that he ‘remained on waiting lists’.

“Then there was the poor liaison with him, no regard for the family that were encouraged to support him and no return of calls.

“We believe this very much contributed to the outcome on that fateful day.”

Ms Andrews said: “Where were the mental health team or epilepsy liaison team?”

And she added: “In the absence of these professionals our family paid the ultimate price.

“My parents sacrificed their lives so he could get a diagnosis of a ‘serious mental illness’ – something we had been trying to get them to acknowledge for some time.”

Ms Andrews said “On the day our parents died we also lost our brother following an act that, we were told, he was unlikely to be in control of.

“An act that broke the trust we had in him and has rocked the foundations of the life I and many others have shared with him.”

Both sisters told the court they were very concerned for the safety of their children if their brother was ever released.

The judge, Mrs Justice Stacey, told Andrews he will be detained at Rampton Special Hospital “without limit of time” after he admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at a previous hearing.

The judge heard on Friday how Andrews has epilepsy and this meant he had not worked since he was in his 20s, but he volunteered at Heeley City Farm, in Sheffield, and was very active in a church in the city.

The judge heard from Mr Brooke that Andrews’s family took him to A&E at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital on April 29, 2022, with deteriorating symptoms, including hearing voices, suicidal ideas and distressing dreams.

He told staff he felt responsible for killing a boy at school, which was not true, and he described thoughts of rape and homicide.

The prosecutor said he was initially assessed by the Liaison Psychiatry Team, and then transferred to the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team and he was reviewed “on an almost daily basis” between May 2-9.

Mr Brooke said it was wrongly recorded that Andrews was not interested in anti-psychotic medication and a referral to the psychosis team was rejected as he did not meet their criteria.

Instead, he received a diagnosis of anxiety and adjustment disorder and was referred to the Emotional Wellbeing Service, he said.

The court heard there were no subsequent contacts with secondary mental health services, but the defendant consulted GPs three times in September and October when he was prescribed antidepressants.

The judge told Andrew: “It haunts your sisters that the severity of your condition was not recognised in time by others.”

The judge said an inquiry has begun into his treatment by health services.

The court heard how doctors at Rampton have still not been able to fully diagnose Andrews as his epilepsy make this complicated, but one possibility is that he has paranoid schizophrenia.

The judge said to the defendant: “Your parents were a wonderful, remarkable couple who lived by example and gave joy to everyone they knew and met.

“There are many ways they radiated love and support to all of their children.”

She said the defendant had enjoyed an idyllic childhood and his father, who was a builder, and mother, who was a district nurse, were much loved in their community.

She said the couple’s deaths was an “absolute tragedy”.

The judge said: “Their lives were cut short in such tragic circumstances while you were in the grip of a psychotic episode in which you believed God ordered you to kill them both and you acted on it.”

She said: “You need treatment, not punishment.”

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