Exclusive

Police apologise to families of murder suicide victims following domestic homicide reviews.

The PSNI has apologised to the families of the victims of a double murder suicide and whose killings were the focus of Northern Ireland's first ever domestic homicide reviews.

The reports identified multiple missed opportunities by agencies including the police, health and social care and the prison service to intervene in stopping their killer.

Stacey Knell was murdered by her partner in Newtownabbey in March 2021. Ken Flanagan then went on to kill his mother before taking his own life. Stacey's family have waived their right to anonymity and are calling for all the agencies to work together to protect other vulnerable women in the future.

Stacey's aunt Linda Hedley told UTV the series of other red flags about Ken Flanagan which could have changed the tragic course of events.

They are detailed in Northern Ireland's first ever domestic homicide reviews and show multiple missed opportunities to stop the perpetrator.

The list is long and includes how police just two months before the killings returned two knives to him after his arrest and conviction of their possession.

The review states: 'Police, having since reviewed the evidence, cannot conclusively say whether either knife was used in the subsequent murder' of his mother.

But it is the failure of organisations to work together and share information which has most shocked the family.

"So many organisations could have prevented this and didn't and to see it all there in black and white is horrifying and that so many organisations could have prevented this, had they have worked together."

"It's too late for Stacey but I just hope that this report is not kept on the back burner and changes are going to be made" added Linda Hedley.

The Police have apologised to the families.

In a statement Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher said: "additional training is in place to strengthen officers' understanding around identifying vulnerability, specifically relating to domestic abuse. 6,000 officers  have been trained this year.''

The statement continues: "We will be taking time as a Police Service, with our partner agencies, to reflect on the further learning from this case and work to put in place more robust information sharing processes."

In a statement the Department of Health said:

"The Department of Health and wider health and social care system fully support the introduction of Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHR) in Northern Ireland.  

"As part of the DHR process, the Department’s Strategic Planning and Performance Group (formerly the Health and Social Care Board) and local Health Trusts worked closely with partners from statutory and voluntary and community organisations to review the tragic circumstances of both cases and identify learnings. 

The Department of Health alongside the Department of Justice have also completed a ‘Call for Views’ exercise and have prepared a draft of a new Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy for Northern Ireland to replace the current strategy which ends in 2023. The draft strategy will be subject to a full public consultation."

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this report, there are details of organisations that offer advice and support at:

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.