A mentally ill paramedic who killed his mother before killing himself had been “a bomb waiting to explode”, said a coroner who has criticised the NSW Ambulance Service for ignoring warnings about his mental state.
Trent Speering, 40, had been facing dismissal from the service when he shot dead his mother, Monica Speering, 72, and himself at her Baulkham Hills home in June 2008.
From 2000, colleagues began to make complaints against Mr Speering about his temper, irrationality, harassment and bullying. Several suggested he be psychiatrically assessed. But the ambulance service dealt with Mr Speering’s case as a disciplinary issue.
In handing down her findings at the Coroner’s Court in Glebe today, the State Coroner, Mary Jerram, said Ambulance Service management had ignored the opinions of its own staff that Mr Speering needed help.
“Unfortunately help was not forthcoming,” Ms Jerram said. “It may not have been successful, but it surely should have been attempted.”
“Trent Speering was a bomb waiting to explode, and while the Ambulance Service management did not light the fuse, they did little to stamp out the flame.”
The court heard Mr Speering sent “horrifying” and abusive letters to colleagues, family and the media, some of which outlined his intention to kill his mother.
“There were moments when it seemed amazing that the court was not dealing with an even worse situation, such as a mass killing of ambulance personnel by Trent Speering,” Ms Jerram said.
“He obviously thought about it, threatened it and had the capacity to do it.”
She recommended the service introduce training to their management personnel on their powers to refer staff for psychiatric assessment.
She also recommended the service introduce clear policies to ensure reports by staff about the mental health of other employees be properly documented and acted upon.