CBD knifeman’s ‘descent into insanity’
In the seven days leading up to Mert Ney’s alleged bloody rampage in Sydney’s CBD, the signs of his “descent into insanity” were becoming increasingly clear.
The trail of events leading up to the stabbing death of Michaela Dunn, 24, and the wounding of Lin Bo, 41, began on the morning of August 7, when Ney’s frightened mother and sister called police for help. The 21-year-old Ney had been involved in a terrifying confrontation at the family home in Marayong, in Sydney’s west, but had disappeared by the time police arrived.
Police would continue to search for Ney over the next week, worried he was going to kill himself. But he wouldn’t be back on their radar again until seven days later, on August 13, when he suddenly appeared in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, covered in blood and brandishing a butcher’s knife yelling “shoot me, f..king shoot me”.
CCTV footage of Ney on August 7 had captured him in the waiting room at Blacktown Hospital in Sydney’s west at 12.15am — clearly agitated and holding his head in his hands. A voice can be heard on the video saying: “Something’s not right with this guy.”
Melinda Ettery, another patient in the waiting room that night, told the Seven Network last night: “He was loud and boisterous, being rude to nurses and doctors.” Ney left the hospital a few hours later and returned to his family home where his sister, Yazel Ney, said he was so “hostile” they called the police.
Police sources say it is unclear how he seemed to fall through the cracks of mental healthcare services after August 7.
Staff at Blacktown Hospital’s mental health centre, Bungarribee House, have told police they thought Ney was being cared for at Cumberland Hospital’s mental health clinic. But it seems no one was looking after him.
Two days later, on August 9, he went to a local GP and admitted
he was having suicidal thoughts. The GP was so worried about Ney’s welfare that he called police.
Police say Ney slipped away again, surfacing for a second time at Blacktown Hospital later that day where he was assessed, but left just hours later.
Ney would spend the next three days in the lead-up to the rampage staying at emergency accommodation at a community house in Blacktown. But no one had thought to contact police.
The Seven Network reported that a friend of Ney’s had sent him a text at the time, warning him: “You are going to get locked up or killed very soon.” Ney responded. “Yah, I wanna die. Tried to kill myself in two days. Didn’t work.”
On Tuesday, Ney suddenly appeared in Sydney’s CBD, covered in blood and brandishing a butcher’s knife.
“We only found out afterwards that he had been in emergency accommodation,” said a police source. “Police were searching for him and we had concerns, but it’s still a mystery to us why we didn’t get a call.”
Ney has yet to be charged while he remains in hospital after needing surgery for a deep laceration to his thigh.
But for the family of the 24year-old woman who was allegedly stabbed to death by Ney in a frenzy, with her throat cut, the horror has just begun. Police sources say the friends and family of Michaela Dunn, a student at Sydney’s University of Notre Dame, had no idea she was working for a discreet sex-for-hire service operating from a unit on the fourth floor of Clarence House, a stately old sandstone building in one of the city’s busiest office precincts.
Police say Ney allegedly arranged on the phone to meet Ms Dunn about 30 minutes before he arrived at the unit, about 1.40pm. CCTV vision captured him leaving the building 20 minutes later with a balaclava on. Standing in a laneway, he calmly removed it to take a selfie. He then began running towards York Street, screaming “Allahu Akbar!” before stabbing 41-year-old Chinese national Lin Bo in the shoulder.
Yazel Ney told The Australian yesterday such is her “disgust” at her brother’s alleged atrocities that she now “hates” having the same name as him.
“If your family member has also done these atrocities you would feel so dirty and guilty,” his sister said, shaking and in disbelief at what she described as her brother’s “steep descent into insanity”.
Ms Ney said after her brother had “absconded” from hospital on August 7 the family thought the biggest danger was that “he was a threat to himself”.
“I wish I could make it all better,” Ms Ney said. “I just want to say sorry to the family (of Ms Dunn), like, sorry a million times.
“We didn’t know he would do this because, like, he’s never hurt the cats. You know how they usually hurt the cats before killing someone, or dogs or whatever. He’s never really been … violent … in the past.”
But Ms Ney said while she was “afraid” of her brother and never wanted to speak to him again, the family was not religious and his use of Islamic terrorist threats appeared to have been a “fear tactic” to scare people.
Former NSW deputy police commissioner and international terrorism expert Nick Kaldas said the tragedy demonstrated, yet again, the profound policy failure with mental health services.
He said since the Richmond Report of 1983, which deinstitutionalised treatment for the mentally ill, the problem of managing seriously unwell people had fallen to police and emergency services.
“The mentally ill are falling through the cracks because there isn’t a mechanism to take care of people who really shouldn’t be out in the community,” Mr Kaldas said.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller repeated his assurances yesterday that Ney appeared to have been a “lone actor” with no terrorist links.
He said regardless of Ney’s mental health issues, he was facing jail for “a very, very long time”.
Michaela Dunn, 24, who died in Sydney on Tuesday, allegedly at the hands of Mert Ney
Mert Ney in the Sydney CBD on Tuesday
‘I wish I could make it all better’: Ney’s sister, Yazel, at the family home yesterday
Mert Ney in custody