Keith Bremner, father of Ross Bremner, dies eight years after Ōtorohanga stabbing

Keith Bremner – the father of mentally unwell man Ross Bremner, who stabbed to death his mother, critically injured his father and killed an elderly couple – has died.

Bremner’s death last month comes almost eight years after his son fatally stabbed wife Clare Bremner, 60, in an attack on the couple in their Ōtorohanga home.

Ross, who was 34 at the time of the “horrific” incident on 4 October, 2016, also stabbed Bremner and left him unconscious before driving to the coastal settlement of Kinohaku, on the Kawhia Harbour.

There, he killed Te Kūiti couple Maurice O’Donnell, 72, and Moana Tuwhangai, 82, in their bach.

Their bodies, along with Ross’s, were found at the remote property three days after the attack on the Bremners and after police initially reassured the public they need not fear for their safety.

Ross’s death is still a suspected suicide.

Bremner’s death came before a coronial inquest into the multiple stabbings could take place and there was still no date set for a hearing.

Ross Bremner.

Under the Coroner’s Act, a coroner must open an inquiry into deaths that appear to have been self-inflicted.

Soon after the tragedy, questions were raised over the care Ross was receiving from the Waikato District Health Board and community mental health services.

Ross had paranoid schizophrenia and had been treated at Waikato Hospital’s Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre three years earlier in April 2013, and prior to that.

Leading up to his death, he was living in the community with the support of the DHB – now Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora Waikato.

Clare had reportedly raised concerns about her son’s escalating behaviour in the weeks before their deaths and asked mental health services for help.

The findings of a serious event review of the care provided to Ross by the DHB have never been made public.

Bremner’s barrister, Paul Depledge, said it was “very sad” a coronial inquest could not take place before Bremner died.

“It’s not reasonable or fair on Keith and his family that it’s been almost eight years since the events took place in 2016.

“He suffered greatly as a result of these tragic series of events. His primary objective was to not have this happen again.

“He was genuinely motivated to seek answers and to seek some kind of transparency so that these events would not happen again, and he would want to know that the Coroner is taking his concerns seriously and that critical recommendations are made and subsequently implemented by key parties involved.”

Depledge said Bremner first approached him 2021 querying Te Whatu Ora Waikato’s review of care.

“The issue with the delay … between the events taking place and the inquest is that the longer the timeframe, the harder it is for key parties involved to recollect the events that took place and … the longer the delay, the greater the stress on the victims and affected parties.

“I would say it’s an unreasonable amount of time.”

Jo Kutukai with a photo of her parents, Mona Tuwhangai and Maurice O'Donnell. They were both killed by Ross Bremner.

Jo Kukutai, the daughter of the elderly couple killed – who were unknown to Ross – told RNZ she forgave their killer but wanted to know why such a mentally unwell man was not under better supervision.

During Ross’ six-week admission in 2013 to the Henry Bennett Centre, he was under the care of American psychiatrist Dr Paul Fox, who was later found guilty of a 2011 sexual assault of a teenage patient in the United States.

Fox had surrendered his licence in the US over “boundary violations” relating to the sexual assault and was working illegally in New Zealand when he began at Waikato Hospital in June 2012.

Te Whatu Ora Waikato previously said a review of Fox’s care of HRBC patients did not indicate any issues with clinical practice.

Asked whether Health New Zealand had objected to a formal inquest hearing, a spokesperson said it always co-operated with coronial investigations.

She said it could not comment on the Bremner case because it was before the Coroner.

Ross’ attack on his father caused a stroke that left Bremner paralysed down one side of his body and in a wheelchair.

He underwent years of rehabilitation and eventually returned to the family home in 2020 with carers.

A death notice for Bremner said he passed away peacefully at home on 19 June, aged 72.

“He will forever be in our hearts and missed. He will be remembered through his joke and storytelling abilities and caring nature,” the notice read.

It said Bremner was the “much-loved” husband of Clare, father of Ross, Loren and Kylie, and grandfather to two.

A funeral and burial was held in Te Kūiti last Thursday.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said the case was still active with Coroner Michael Robb, but no fresh information was available.

However, Depledge said after RNZ asked questions on Friday morning he was invited to a pre-inquest conference by the Coroner.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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