‘Psychiatric hospital failed my dead son’

EXACTLY two months after discharging himself from a psychiatric hospital, a 26-year-old man who claimed he was the Archangel Gabriel stabbed a Garda sergeant before thrusting two knives into his own chest, killing himself almost instantly.

Amid emotional scenes yesterday, an inquest recorded a verdict of self-inflicted death in the case of Trevor Clancy, from Pike Road, Fermoy, Co Cork, who took his life on New Year’s Eve 2006.

His father Eamonn said he felt his son should not have been discharged from St Stephen’s Hospital, Glanmire, following 23 days of treatment. “I think they failed him,” said Mr Clancy.

However, he said his son had not attended follow-up outpatient clinics, as he was embarrassed people would know his business. Trevor also failed to take prescribed medication.

His father said he became concerned about Trevor’s behaviour when his son told him two angels were talking to him.

Deirdre O’Flynn, Trevor’s on/off girlfriend for four years, said she became concerned in 2006 when he told her he was the Archangel Gabriel. She said he started drinking heavily and on one occasion punched her, which was totally out of character.

On the night Trevor died, he went for a couple of pints in his family’s own pub in the town, before visiting other hostelries.

The postmortem showed he drank up to eight pints before trying to get into a nightclub.

Bouncers refused him admission and spotted he was carrying knives. They immediately contacted gardaí, who confronted Trevor a few minutes later.

Garda Tracy Whelan said she and her colleagues had done everything they could to disarm him. Trevor was flaying the knives around and gardaí hit him with batons to dislodge them, but to no effect. “He was like a man possessed,” she said.

Despite the fact that Sgt John Liston was stabbed in the stomach by Trevor, he kept pleading with him to throw down the knives.

An emotional Sgt Liston, who was out of work for 36 weeks as a result, said Trevor was shouting ‘Gabriel is back’.

Garda James Morrissey discharged a fire extinguisher into Trevor’s face, but again it had no effect.

Stephen Conway had played a few games of pool with Trevor in a pub in the town earlier that night, and he said he seemed all right then. Later he saw him brandishing two knives while being confronted by gardaí.

“I said to Trevor ‘what you doing? Let it off’. He was shouting he was Gabriel. He looked as if he was gunning for war,” said Mr Conway.

Det Garda Tom Ryan, who was armed, was then summoned to the scene.

“If I drew my firearm I feared he wouldn’t back off. He’d probably have come at me and I’d have had no choice but to shoot him,” said Det Ryan.

At this stage his father was called to the scene to calm him but Trevor also flashed the knives at him. He didn’t seem to recognise his father and called him Satan.

Trevor then put the two knives to his chest and thrust himself against a wall. Efforts to revive him failed.

His mother Bernadette claimed gardaí should have held back until her son had calmed down.

Det Supt Tom Hayes, who investigated the incident, said gardaí had since been issued with extendable batons, which can be used to better disarm a person carrying knives. Also since then all gardaí have been issued with anti-stab vests.

The senior officer said trained Garda negotiators were being put in place around the country to deal with such events.

“It was very unusual to have an incident of this nature,” he told the coroner Dr Michael Kennedy.

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