A PROMINENT anti-violence campaigner in Yorkshire was stabbed to death by her grandson, who was suffering from mental health problems after smoking cannabis since the age of 11.
An inquest heard yesterday that Pat Regan had tirelessly tried to help her grandson Rakeim Regan, whose mental health had deteriorated dramatically in the days before the fatal stabbing in May 2008.
Her grandson, who was 21 at the time, stabbed 53-year-old Mrs Regan multiple times in the head and neck, severing her jugular vein, after believing she was conspiring with the police to come and get him.
Frances Regan, Rakeim’s mother and Mrs Regan’s daughter, told the hearing at Leeds Coroner’s Court that she believed her son should have been sectioned and that he should have received the psychiatric help he needed, especially in the days leading up to the tragic incident.
She said over a period of six months his state of mind had gone rapidly downhill and he was extremely paranoid, especially about the police “being after him”.
Rakeim was eventually diagnosed with severe paranoid schizophrenia following his grandmother’s death, and was ordered to be detained indefinitely at a secure psychiatric hospital after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The Mothers Against Guns campaigner had been involved in trying to get help for Rakeim’s mental health and the day before she was killed, had gone to St James’s Hospital in Leeds with him.
But she said, he was given a sleeping tablet and sent home with his grandmother.
Just days earlier he had exploded in a row with his mother, and had thrown an orange at her.
Ms Regan said: “He was not a violent person and this was out of character. He was acting strange and would not take down his hood.”
Ms Regan told the packed inquest that Rakeim first got drunk at a friend’s birthday party when he was aged nine and she found a photograph of him smoking a skunk cannabis joint when he was around 11.
She said she never saw him using cannabis but he would open his bedroom window and light joss sticks in his bedroom to disguise the smell and, when he was around 15, she found the drug in his pocket.
On one occasion, he was found to be high on cannabis in class and was later excluded from Abbey Grange High School in Leeds.
Ms Regan said: “I do believe there was a link between my son’s cannabis use and his mental health issues. As his mental health became worse we wanted him to be sectioned as it was for his own good. We wanted him to get help.”
Rakeim was described as a “sensitive boy, quiet and laid-back” who was spoilt by his extended family, particularly his grandmother, to whom he was very close.
He also “idolised” his uncle Danny and Ms Regan said she believed he had a “mini-breakdown” after he was stabbed to death in St Helens, Merseyside, in 2002 – an event which led Mrs Regan to become an active member of the campaign group Mothers Against Guns.
The inquest heard that Rakeim was in trouble with the police on a number of occasions for minor crimes and became paranoid about them, believing he was a target.
Ms Regan said: “He felt the police were picking on him. I felt he was harassed by the police.”
He became depressed and suffered low self-esteem, hiding all the mirrors in the house and contacting a plastic surgeon.
He also had problems sleeping and would often not sleep for days on end, West Yorkshire Coroner David Hincliff heard.
Ms Regan said she and other members of the family tried to help Rakeim seek medical treatment, but he would not admit that he had a problem and refused to seek help.
The body of Mrs Regan, a community worker, was found at her home in Marlborough Grange, Leeds, on June 1 2008.
The inquest at Leeds Coroners’ Court, which is due to last for two weeks, continues.