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Merry Hill flats deaths: Brutal Wolverhampton stabbing jury retires

By David Banner | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

An inquest jury has retired to consider its conclusions into the death of a man and his sister in a brutal stabbing.

Melvin James and Ann-Marie James

The inquest into the deaths of Melvin James and sister Anne-Marie at their family flat in Wolverhampton has been ongoing this week with a jury now coming to a conclusion on how exactly the pair died.

The tragedy unfolded at Lynette James’ fourth-floor flat on Leasowes Drive, Merry Hill, when her son fatally stabbed his sister Anne Marie, a mother of five, before critically injuring his mother and turning the knife on himself.

Melvin James had to be subdued by armed police using stun grenades and Tasers a month after being discharged from a mental health ward following treatment for "delusional" behaviour.

The jury heard evidence there was no face-to-face handover at the hospital with Mr James' family, after he was given the all-clear in February.

During the third day of the inquest, held at the Black Country Coroner's Court in Oldbury, coroner Zaffar Siddique told the jury that doctors who had dealt with Melvin prior to his release from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital said they believed that it was 'highly unlikely' that he had disguised his mental health problems through embarrassment in order to be released back into the support of his family in the Black Country.

Mr Siddique said: "The jury asked if the doctors who had been looking after Melvin believed he could have essentially been so embarrassed by his behaviour that he had become introverted and attempted to disguise his irrational thoughts and beliefs.

"However they have told me that this would be highly unlikely due to the amount of checks and observations carried out before releasing someone with mental health issues back into the public."

The incident happened in a fourth-floor flat at Highfield Court

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Doctors at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital said it was "unfortunate" and "regrettable" Melvin's younger brother was not given details of after-care at discharge.

Leon James had told the inquest he met his 36-year-old sibling, waiting alone for him in the hospital's car park, before driving them home to Wolverhampton, on February 10.

Melvin James went to live with mother Lynette who, in her harrowing account, told how she told her son "I love you" as he repeatedly stabbed her on March 8.

Mr James died of multiple stab wounds which a pathologist told the coroner on Tuesday were probably self inflicted. A post mortem found he had at least 80 injuries.

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His younger sister Anne-Marie James, 33, was found dead in the Leasowes Drive apartment's hallway with a fatal stab wound to her heart.

She had 17 knife-related injuries in total.

Mr James had been admitted to a psychiatric treatment ward in Edinburgh the previous month.

Police had found him walking without shoes in the early hours of February 4 and Mr James would later tell doctors he was trying to walk "to Wolverhampton".

Dr Norman Nuttall, the consultant psychiatrist at the Edinburgh hospital who had overall responsibility for Mr James's care, said: "Mr James appeared to be acutely medically unwell.

"He was voicing delusional ideas."

Mr James had expressed the belief he was a Transformers TV show character, voiced conspiracy theories, and made reference to having swallowed "alien eggs".

He also spoke of "a clown that could brainwash him" into a choice of "kill or be killed".

The doctor said while he was assessed as a "risk to himself" he was not to others.

Blood tests revealed an opioid, which doctors believed was possibly from a psychoactive substance, in his blood, leading to a diagnosis his mental health episode was "drug induced".

However, in evidence on Wednesday Dr Nuttall said his admission may have "represented an exacerbation of an underlying psychotic illness".

Mr James' condition improved and he was discharged home.

On the morning of the fatal incident, police responded to reports Mr James "had allegedly stabbed his mother and sister", the coroner told the jury in summing-up.

Armed officers had to smash their way into the flat and Taser a blood-stained Mr James before disarming him.

Despite rapid medical treatment both he and his sister died at the scene.

Their 59-year-old mother survived despite grave injuries.

The jury were sent home for the day and deliberations will continue on Thursday.

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