Hospital missed warnings about schizophrenic killer, report says

Hospital staff missed series of warnings about paranoid schizophrenic who killed hero church warden, 88, in frenzied onslaught as he tried to stop her attacking Co-op shoppers, report finds

  • Zara Radcliffe, 33, killed John Rees, 88, in a Co-op in Penygraig, south Wales
  • Hospital staff missed signs of her ‘rapid deterioration’ before the attack

Hospital staff missed a series of ‘warning signs’ before releasing a woman who later killed a church warden in a frenzied supermarket attack, a review has said.  

John Rees, 88, died after intervening to block Zara Radcliffe, 33, from attacking shoppers in a Co-op convenience store in Penygraig, south Wales.  

Mother-of-one Radcliffe stabbed the church warden in the face before battering him with a bottle, after he attempted to stop her from attacking a nurse with a knife. 

Radcliffe, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

However, an independent review has said hospital staff failed to recognise the dangers of Radcliffe’s ‘rapid deterioration’ in the months before the May 2020 attack.

Church warden John Rees, 88, (pictured) was killed in the supermarket attack

Zara Radcliffe, 33, (pictured) pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility following the supermarket attack 

The attack saw Radcliffe beat Mr Rees with a bottle until it broke, before using another bottle to hit him in the head 21 times as he lay defenceless on the floor. 

The 33-year-old made a praying motion as she was arrested, before being charged for the murder of Mr Rees and the attempted murder of three other shoppers. 

Mr Rees had left his 87-year-old wife Eunice in the couple’s Honda outside, to pick up goods from the Co-op convenience store.  

The review commissioned by Cwm Taf Morgannwg Safeguarding Board made seven recommendations following the attack in Penygraig in the Rhondda, South Wales.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board apologised for ‘any instances in which her care fell short’.

Chief executive Paul Mears called it ‘a tragic case that has impacted upon the lives of many people’.

‘We apologise to Miss Radcliffe and her family for any instances in which her care fell short of the high standards we set ourselves,’ he said. 

‘We requested this external review to ensure all opportunities for learning and improvement could be identified.’

Mr Rees saved nurse Gaynor Saurin when he tried to tackle Radcliffe and was posthumously awarded the Queens medal for gallantry.

John Rees, 88, was killed after attempting to block Zara Radcliffe,33, from attacking a nurse with a knife in a Co-op supermarket in Penygraig, south Wales

Zara Radcliffe, 33, (pictured) was sentenced in October 2020 and detained indefinitely with a hospital order

Radcliffe was sentenced in October 2020 and detained indefinitely with a hospital order.

Prosecutor Michael Jones KC told that hearing that Mr Rees’s efforts to stop Radcliffe was ‘a selfless and brave act which cost him his life.’

As well as the attack on Mr Rees, Radcliffe also pleaded guilty to three charges of attempted murder of Lisa Way, 53, Mr Price, 58, and Mrs Saurin.

Mr Rees, a retired senior engineer, lived with his wife Eunice at their home in nearby Trealaw.

An inquest heard he was attacked by a woman while he was in the shop and died from severe blunt trauma to his face.

His cause of death was recorded as severe blunt trauma to the face including multiple facial fractures.

Church warden Mr Rees was described as ‘the very definition of a good man, extremely respected and liked in the community’ by his family.

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