Questions ‘must be answered’ after man flees hospital

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

Concerns have been raised over how a man found wandering naked on the streets of Newry was able to walk out of hospital, shortly before an elderly couple were murdered in their Portadown home.

Outgoing Upper Bann MP David Simpson has arranged urgent meetings with the PSNI and the Southern Health Trust “to establish the facts” following Friday’s brutal double killing of pensioners Michael and Marjorie Cawdery.

The respected 83-year-olds were stabbed to death in a frenzied knife attack at their home in the town’s quiet cul-de-sac Upper Ramone Park.

And Mr Simpson believes that many vital questions must be answered “to allay the fears of the community”.

He said: “A man, found wandering naked and obviously agitated in the Newry earlier in the day, was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital 20 miles away. I am told he was taken in for observation, and that he decided to leave the building and simply walked out.

“Soon afterwards, the killings took place at the Cawderys’ white-walled home, literally over the fence from the pathway that divides the hospital grounds from Upper Ramone.”

Mr Simpson will be asking for clarification when he meets with the local PSNI commander this morning. He has also arranged a meeting with the Southern Health Trust tomorrow to discuss security and access issues between Upper Ramone and the hospital grounds.

He said the hospital’s psychiatric unit – the Bluestone Unit – is within short walking distance of Upper Ramone via a path which is not gated off.

A spokesperson for the trust said it was unable to comment as the matter was now the subject of a live police investigation.

The PSNI also said it would be “inappropriate” to comment, adding: “No inference should be drawn from this.