CBD knife­man’s ‘de­scent into in­san­ity’

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - DEB­O­RAH CORNWALL SASCHA O’SULLIVAN

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

SEVEN NET­WORK

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

SEVEN NEWS

Mert Ney in cus­tody

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