A British man’s paranoid delusions ended in a violent breakdown during which he is believed to have stabbed his partner and two children to death before cutting his own throat, the Coroner’s court heard yesterday.
Liverpool-born John Shannon, a 31-year old habitual user of cannabis and steroids, was likely hallucinating and thought he was being pursued by Lebanese contract killers threatening to kill him and remove his organs.
He also thought his partner had tried to poison him and that he was not the natural father of their baby, who he feared would be “pimped” by his imaginary pursuers.
Disturbing details of Mr Shannon’s paranoid state of mind emerged during the second day of an inquest into the deaths of a family of four in a flat on Boschetti’s Steps last March.
Dr Adrian West, a veteran forensic clinical psychologist who conducted a detailed analysis of Mr Shannon’s text exchanges with relatives and friends, described how the delusions intensified in the days leading up to the horrific killings.
Mr Shannon become so convinced and distressed by his delusional beliefs that “…ultimately he took pre-emptive action against her and himself,” Dr West said.
The psychologist could not provide an explanation as to why the children had also been killed, “…other than he saw them as an extension of them their mother.”
However it was also possible a delusional Mr Shannon believed he was saving them from a worse fate, Dr West added.
The inquest heard earlier this week that Anarda De La Caridad Perez Friman, a 37-year old Spanish woman of Cuban descent, died from a stab wound to the heart likely sustained while she was lying in bed.
Her daughters Amanda Kristoffersen Perez, a four-year old child from a previous relationship, and six-week old Eve Shannon Perez also died from stab wounds through the heart.
All had been repeatedly knifed and defensive wounds indicated the mother and toddler had tried to fend off their attacker.
In distressing evidence yesterday, the court was told neighbours had heard a woman’s high-pitched, panicked screams and the desperate crying of a little girl.
On Monday Dr Nathaniel Cary, a forensic pathologist who conducted post mortem examinations on all four deceased, said Mr Shannon died from a deep, self-inflicted cut across the neck that punctured his jugular vein.
Police found eight knives and a blood-soaked corkscrew in the flat, along with evidence of extreme violence in several rooms.
Yesterday Dr West sketched out a portrait of Mr Shannon as a man with a troubled past, described by his stepfather as “Mr Angry” and “a hard man, a hard case”.
Mr Shannon, a muscular bodybuilder, had a number of past convictions and had been imprisoned as a younger man for burglary and assault.
In 2010, he skipped bail while accused of cannabis cultivation and fled the UK for Spain, ending up in Estepona on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
The court was told he had been a habitual cannabis user since his early teens and also abused steroids, which according to his stepfather “brought out the worst in him”.
According to Dr West, Mr Shannon had displayed signs of the development and progression of a severe mental disorder that was likely exacerbated by substance abuse and the stress of possible imprisonment should he return to the UK.
As his delusional paranoia intensified last March, Mr Shannon also told relatives that police thought he was a paedophile and that he would be killed in jail.
But the court was told this was all in his mind and he had never been suspected or accused of any such offence.
Mr Shannon also sent increasingly desperate pleas for help to his relatives, describing his fears in text and WhatsApp messages and questioning whether he was losing his sanity.
“It’s very likely that John Shannon was experiencing marked distress as a result of his fear of fatal threat,” Dr West said.
The inquest, which is being heard by Coroner Charles Pitto, continues today.