Schizophrenic Who Killed Schoolteacher Goes Missing

A schizophrenic who stabbed a teacher to death is being sought by police after he failed to return to his supported accommodation last week.

Anthony Patrick O’Brien, 37, was last seen in Inverness on Thursday, but was only reported missing yesterday. He is believed to be in the Strathclyde area.

Officials described him as “a conditionally-discharged, restricted patient” and expressed concern over his well-being.

It was not clear why it had taken four days for him to be reported missing from his Highland Council-run accommodation for vulnerable people.

Police said “there was no reason to suspect he was a danger to the public”, but have requested assistance in tracking O’Brien down.

In October 2000, O’Brien attacked Bill Scott, 56, a father of five who was returning home from a social club in Cumbernauld. Mr Scott died within a minute of having his aorta cut.

At the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Johnston ordered O’Brien to be detained indefinitely in the State Psychiatric Hospital at Carstairs, where he was to receive treatment for his schizophrenia. At the time of the killing, O’Brien believed he would die if anyone touched his head.

Mr O’Brien was charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of culpable homicide after the Crown accepted that his responsibility was diminished due to schizophrenia.

Lord Johnston said that O’Brien should remain at Carstairs until doctors decided if or when he should be released.

The court heard that as police arrived at the scene, O’Brien had dialled 999 himself to admit to the killing. When cautioned he replied: “The boy ripped my shirt. He was drunk. I stabbed him.”

But Derek Ogg, defending, told the court that O’Brien had never been properly assessed by doctors. He described it as “a tragic case of someone in the community suffering from mental illness”.

After O’Brien was sentenced, the Conservative Party called for an inquiry amid claims that the “judgment of the health authorities clearly was horribly wrong”.

Mr Scott was the principal guidance teacher at Abronhill High School in Cumbernauld, which was immortalised in the hit film Gregory’s Girl. An award for good citizenship has since been established in his name.

After the court case, Mr Scott’s brother-in-law, John Davison, the managing director of an engineering firm, said: “It’s yet another case of society being failed by the authorities failing to pick up a mentally-ill person.

“This man was a danger. He had already appeared in court twice before for assaulting members of his family. They knew he was mentally ill. He was dangerous. Even his neighbours were terrified of him.

“We want to ask why on earth was his mental illness not picked up years before? Bob would have been alive today if it had been, but it took his death for the illness to be detected.

“It’s a tragedy not only for our family but for the accused man’s family. Nevertheless, we hope [O’Brien] never gets out.”

No-one from Highland Council could be reached for comment last night. But officials expressed concern for O’Brien’s “health and safety”.

He was last seen in the Rowan Road area of Inverness on Thursday. He is described as 6ft 1in, of medium to muscular build, with blue eyes and short brown hair. He has a scar on his left cheek and a noticeable chip in his front teeth.

O’Brien is believed to be casually dressed, probably in jeans and a T-shirt, and may be wearing a brown suede bomber jacket.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact Inverness police station on 01463 715555.