The British man who is believed to have stabbed his partner, her daughter and their six-week old baby to death before cutting his own throat was a “sick boy, not a monster”, his stepfather said yesterday.
Liverpool born John Shannon, a 31-year old habitual user of cannabis and steroids, suffered paranoid delusions and thought he was being pursued by Lebanese contract killers threatening to kill him and remove his organs.
But on the third day of the inquest into their deaths, Mr Shannon’s stepfather Terence Moorehead painted a picture of a “shy person” with a “very high IQ” who had been the victim of bullying at his boarding school.
The court heard that Mr Shannon had a number of previous convictions clocked up as a youngster but which Mr Moorehead put down to the “small town mentality” of the North Wales village where his stepson grew up.
Mr Shannon spent time in prison following a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm after he walked in on his girlfriend in bed with another man and hit the girl and got into a fight with the man.
Mr Moorehead also said that rather than buy cannabis Mr Shannon began to cultivate his own and when police discovered the plants he was arrested and kept on police bail without charge for around one year. He then travelled, whilst on bail, around the Middle East for some time working with his stepfather before returning to his parents’ home in North Wales.
Here Mr Shannon was confined to a bedroom on the top floor of the house for one year and not even his siblings were told that he had returned for fear the police would find out and re-arrest him.
During this time his father purchased marijuana or him and in the latter stages of this confinement Mr Shannon “began talking to himself” and on one occasion walked around the house carrying a knife.
Mr Moorehead explained that he then suggested to Mr Shannon that he move to Gibraltar where he had business opportunities. His stepson was “very enthusiastic” about the prospect, Mr Moorehead said.
Within weeks of meeting Anarda De La Caridad Perez Friman she was pregnant, Mr Moorehead said and he was not prepared for it.
“It was a big struggle,” Mr Moorehead.
In dramatic scenes, the sister of Ms Perez Friman took to her feet to ask Mr Moorehead a number of questions about his stepson.
“Haven’t you realised you created a monster,” Neomi Montesdeoca Freeman said in Spanish.
“He was a sick boy not a monster,” Mr Moorehead replied.
“I am sorry, I took control, I made a mistake,” he added.
“In hindsight,” Coroner Charles Pitto said.
“Yes,” he replied.
Rene Kristofferson, the former partner of Ms Perez Friman and father of four-year old Amanda, the toddler who was killed, also gave evidence at the inquest yesterday.
Describing his former partner, Mr Kristofferson said: “For me, Anarda was, and still is in spirit, the most extraordinary woman I’ve ever met. She changed my life.”
He added: “She was the best mum you could ever imagine. Nobody could ask for a better mum,”
When it came to her children, Mr Kristofferson said, they always came first. “She would never choose anybody over her children. Never.”
Ms Perez Friman also had two sons from a previous relationship. Mr Kristofferson explained that when he and Ms Perez Friman were together they all lived with him and he became “like a second father to them and still is to this day.”
But when their relationship eventually disintegrated and she began co-habiting with Mr Shannon, the boys left one-by-one to go and live with their father in Tenerife.
With the youngest telling him that “he didn’t feel like it was his home”.
He added that his own daughter did not have a close relationship with Mr Shannon, he thought because of the language barrier. Mr Kristofferson explained that Amanda could understand English but was “a bit embarrassed” to speak it and preferred to converse in Spanish.
Twice Ms Perez Friman left Mr Shannon, both times she went to stay with Mr Kristofferson. On the second occasion on March 11, Ms Perez Friman told Mr Kristofferson that her partner had tried to hurt her and had told her “You better leave now before something really bad happens”.
Ms Perez Friman and her two children stayed with Mr Kristofferson for nearly two weeks. He described the first time he held Eve in his arms and told the court “I didn’t look at her any different than Amanda”.
She returned to Mr Shannon because he had promised her he would see a doctor for his temper and she wanted to give their relationship a go for the sake of their daughter.
Mr Kristofferson broke down when describing to the court the last time he saw his daughter and the session had to recess.
He told the court that he had to identify the bodies of the children through photographs.
Mr Kristofferson : “In all of this I am very very thankful for everything the Royal Gibraltar Police has done and everyone involved in this case. I feel very sorry for the people that needed to open that door and see that scene.”
The inquest continues today.