Killer known to health workers before stabbing

Casey Kearney. Below: Hannah Bonser
Casey Kearney. Below: Hannah Bonser
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BEFORE she killed Casey Kearney, Hannah Bonser was well-known to psychiatric staff in Doncaster and only a few months before the stabbing had been warned for carrying a knife in the street.

As a child, she had been under the supervision of social workers, and yesterday’s verdict raises new questions for services criticised following a series of Doncaster child death cases.

Hannah Bonser

Hannah Bonser

Council, police and NHS bosses have repeatedly claimed lessons have been learned, but fresh concerns will come forward about Bonser’s continual contact with health staff before the murder.

The frightening extent of her problems emerged as details of her repeated dealings with psychiatric nurses and doctors were catalogued during her trial.

Bonser’s family had been “odd”, according to lawyers. Her parents were Mormons, and she had been kept away from school until she was 10, when her morbidly obese, 30-stone mother died.

The killer did not get on with her father and went into foster care. She went to school and despite initial problems, began to progress.

But by the age of 17, Bonser had needed help from mental staff because of self-harm, and on her 17th birthday claimed she was “hearing voices”.

Between 2003 and 2007 she was under the care of the Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDASH), but she then disappeared from nurses records until 2011.

Those same records show, however, that starting from the second half of last year Bonser was back in “virtual constant contact with the mental health services as either an inpatient or outpatient”.

By September she had asked for help on several occasions and had told staff that she was frightened that people were “out to get her” and slept with a knife under her pillow.

Also last September, police caught the killer carrying a large kitchen knife, similar to the one she used to stab Casey.

By the end of the month, Bonser had travelled down to London, and had arrived at a bookshop run by a woman who described herself as a pagan priestess, desperately pleading to be “exorcised”.

After being allowed to stay in the shop, near Kings Cross station, for several nights, she was finally taken to the capital’s University College Hospital where she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and sent back to Doncaster.

She was admitted to the town’s St Catherine’s mental hospital as an inpatient for a week but then discharged on October 10.

Between that date and February 14, when the stabbing took place, Bonser had apparently continually requested help from mental health staff, and had been admitted to hospital after two overdoses in November.

By January, she was “pleading” to be admitted back into St Catherine’s hospital because she said she was a “danger” to others, and had requested a prescription of anti-psychotic drugs to help her.

As a result of her requests and her sustained claims about her flat and her state of mind, she was admitted into “crisis housing” at the charity Rethink in Imperial Crescent, Doncaster on January 8.

She was discharged seven days later, and again returned asking for help a few weeks later. Her last visit to the charity was on Valentine’s Day to confess to the stabbing.