11 Oct 2016

Neighbour: Bremner 'was getting a lot more aggro'

6:56 pm on 11 October 2016

Ross Bremner's mother had asked for help as she became increasingly worried about her son's mental health, just a couple of weeks before he killed her and two others, a neighbour says.

Family home of Ross Bremner, and his parents Clare and Keith.

Flowers outside the family home of Ross Bremner and his parents, Clare and Keith, in Otorohanga. Photo: RNZ / Alex Aston

Bremner killed his mother Clare, 60, and critically injured his father Keith, 64, in a knife attack at their Otorohanga home last Tuesday night.

Ross Bremner.

Ross Bremner. Photo: NZ Police

His body was found on Friday night alongside those of couple Mona Tuwhangai, 82, and Maurice O'Donnell, 72, who he killed at their remote property at Kinohaku near Kawhia Harbour.

The Waikato District Health Board would not confirm whether Bremner was seen by a mental health assessment team in the weeks before the killings, saying the independent review of his care might take several weeks.

Dennis Kaumoana, who lived near the Bremners in Otorohanga, said Mrs Bremner had only recently spoken to him about her concerns.

Mrs Bremner told him her son was more aggressive, was having more severe mood swings and she believed he had stopped taking his medication, he said.

"She noticed that he was getting a lot more aggro, and she was just seeking medical help from anyone, really."

Mr Kaumoana said he told Mrs Bremner to get in touch with the Henry Bennett Centre at Waikato Hospital, where Bremner had previously been an in-patient, and ask for him to be assessed.

He did not know what action was taken after that.

'No-one can blame the Bremner family'

Mr Kaumoana also has ties with the whānau of Ms Tuwhangai and Mr O'Donnell, who were buried today after a tangi at Hia Kaitupeka Marae in Taumarunui.

Mr Kaumoana said the whānau did not blame Bremner for what happened.

"Everyone's been told down in Taumarunui that no-one can blame the Bremner family, we can't blame Ross, it's just a downfall through the government not supplying the right treatment for people."

Mr Kaumoana said the system had let the Bremner family down and something needed to be done to prevent a similar tragedy.

Mental health services at 'breaking point' - Labour

Labour's health spokesperson Annette King said mental health services across the country - not just in Waikato - had reached breaking point.

She said for people in rural areas, like Otorohanga, it was even harder to access services.

"I do think we have far too many reports of failures in mental health now to ignore it. There does need to be a more comprehensive review," Mrs King said.

But Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has dismissed the need for a national inquiry into mental health services.

He said more money was being spent, and access to services was being improved.

"If you actually look at the statistics, waiting times are coming down and people with emergency problems are being seen straight away."

Dr Coleman maintained the mental health system was providing the care people needed.

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