Jury out on Edinburgh mental health patient killer

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An inquest jury has retired to consider its conclusions into the death of a man and his sister in a fatal flat stabbing.

Melvin James had to be subdued by armed police using stun grenades and Tasers a month after being discharged from a mental health ward following treatment for “delusional” behaviour.

The jury heard evidence that there was no face-to-face handover at the hospital in Edinburgh with Mr James’ family, after he was given the all-clear in February.

Doctors at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital said it was “unfortunate” and “regrettable” his younger brother was not given details of after-care, at discharge.

Leon James told an inquest he met his 36-year-old sibling, waiting alone for him in the hospital’s car park, before driving them home to Wolverhampton, on 10 February.

Melvin James went to live with mother Lynette, who in her harrowing account, told the court how in an attack on 8 March she told Mr James “I love you” as he repeatedly stabbed her.

Mr James died of multiple stab wounds which a pathologist told the coroner on Tuesday were probably self inflicted.

A post mortem found he had at least 80 injuries.

His younger sister Anne-Marie James, 33, was found dead in the Leasowes Drive apartment’s hallway, with a fatal stab wound to her heart.

She had 17 knife-related injuries in total.

Mr James had been admitted to a psychiatric treatment ward in Edinburgh the previous month. Police had found him walking without shoes in the early hours of 4 February.

Mr James would later tell doctors he was trying to walk “to Wolverhampton”.

Dr Norman Nuttall, consultant psychiatrist at the Edinburgh hospital, had overall responsibility for Mr James’s care.

He said: “Mr James appeared to be acutely medically unwell.

“He was voicing delusional ideas.”

Mr James had expressed the belief he was a Transformers TV show character, voiced conspiracy theories, and made reference to having swallowed “alien eggs”.

He also spoke of “a clown that could brainwash him” into a choice of “kill or be killed”.

The doctor said, while he was assessed as a “risk to himself”, he was not to others.

Blood tests revealed an opioid, which doctors believed was possibly from a psychoactive substance, in his blood, leading to a diagnosis his mental health episode was “drug induced”.

However, in evidence yesterday Dr Nuttall said his admission may have “represented an exacerbation of an underlying psychotic illness”.

Mr James’ condition improved and he was discharged home.

On the morning of the fatal incident, police responded to reports Mr James “had allegedly stabbed his mother and sister”, senior Black Country coroner Zafar Siddique told the jury in summing-up yesterday at the Coroner’s Court in Dudley.

Armed police officers had to smash their way into the flat and Taser a blood-stained Mr James before disarming him.

Despite rapid medical treatment, both he and his sister died at the scene.

Their 59-year-old mother survived despite grave injuries.

The jury were sent home for the day and deliberations will continue today.