In­jured dad home for Xmas

Sole sur­vivor of bru­tal slay­ings by his son to leave re­hab cen­tre af­ter two years

Herald on Sunday - - WE SALUTE YOU - Carolyne Meng-Yee

The sole sur­vivor of the Ross Brem­ner killings — his fa­ther Keith — is set to re­turn to his fam­ily home to live for the first time in two years.

In Oc­to­ber 2016, Ross Brem­ner killed his mother, 60-year-old Clare, and badly in­jured his fa­ther at their O¯ toro­hanga fam­ily home, and then killed Mau­rice O’Don­nell, 72, and his wife Moana Tuwhangai, 82, at their home near Kawhia.

His body was found along­side those of O’Don­nell and Tuwhangai.

Keith Brem­ner suf­fered a bro­ken jaw and cuts to his throat and chest dur­ing his schiz­o­phrenic son’s of­fend­ing.

As he lay un­con­scious wait­ing for first re­spon­ders to ar­rive he had a stroke and was paral­ysed down one side.

He has been re­cu­per­at­ing at the Laura Fer­gus­son Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in Hamil­ton and the 67-yearold’s brother, Jim Brem­ner, con­firmed he was fi­nally near­ing re­lease.

“I vis­ited Keith two weeks ago and he says he will be home be­fore Christ­mas,” he said.

Late last year Brem­ner was able to spend sev­eral hours at the fam­ily home, ac­com­pa­nied by his el­dest daugh­ter, Loren, and two health­care work­ers.

Den­nis Kau­moana, the Brem­n­ers’ next-door neigh­bour, told the Her­ald on Sun­day the wid­ower was due home “any day now” but the fam­ily was yet to find a pro­fes­sional care­giver.

Kau­moana, a se­cu­rity guard, said all the build­ing con­trac­tors had left and all the hous­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions to make it vi­able for Brem­ner to live in were com­plete — the four-bed­room house was “look­ing good”.

“It’s taken about nine to 10 months to build,” he said.

“One of the con­trac­tors told me it cost about $20,000 to in­stall the lift.

“They’ve in­stalled the lifts in, from un­der­neath the house to the lounge. There is an­other lift at the back of the sec­tion to drop him down on to the deck at the back of the house.

“They’ve widened the doors for Keith’s wheel­chair and the bath­room has been done up and they’ve put in a new shower — so it’s all fin­ished.”

Kau­moana was more con­cerned about Brem­ner con­stantly be­ing re­minded of the bru­tal slay­ing of his wife Clare by their son.

Jim Brem­ner said his sib­ling was im­prov­ing daily at the re­hab cen­tre.

But he feared that mov­ing back to the fam­ily home might trig­ger “trau­matic” mem­o­ries for his brother.

“I mean, would you want to?” he said.

“Then again, you wouldn’t want to be sit­ting in a re­hab clinic too long.”

Brem­ner can talk but he can’t walk due the in­juries he suf­fered.

“He is in good spir­its and has learnt to trans­fer him­self from his wheel­chair to his bed but that’s about it,” said his brother.

He said the past two years had been “hell” for his fam­ily and ev­ery Christ­mas is a som­bre re­minder of that.

“We’re not look­ing for­ward to Christ­mas, our son Robert died on Box­ing Bay last year. There was some­thing wrong with his mi­tral valve. He was 35 and a vi­brant sort of a rooster.

“We’ve had one of those two years I sup­pose where we’ve lost so many fam­ily members — Clare, Ross, my sis­ter and now my son — that’s not much to cel­e­brate.”

Keith Brem­ner, pic­tured with daugh­ter Loren and wife Clare, was badly hurt in the at­tack that claimed Clare’s life.

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