Glasgow & West Scotland

Police unaware Oban killer neighbour was dangerous

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Media caption'I'm heartbroken the warning was not acted on'

The partner of a man killed by his neighbour has said there was no hope for her loved one because police did not know the man was dangerous.

Oskars Rancevs was acquitted of the murder of Martyn Smith and of killing neighbour John Whyte due to severe mental illness.

On Wednesday a judge ordered him to be detained indefinitely at the State Hospital.

Lady Rae called him a "serious risk to the public".

She said said she had "no option but to impose a compulsion order with a restriction order", meaning Rancevs will be held at the State Hospital Carstairs without limit of time.

In the lead-up to the killings last year, a number of people expressed concerns about Rancevs after he behaved erratically.

Former SAS soldier Martyn Smith's partner says the same thing should never be allowed to happen again.

Mr Smith was 73 when he was battered to death outside his flat in Columba Court, Oban in October 2018.

Image caption Oskars Rancevs was acquitted of murdering Martyn Smith and killing John Whyte on mental health grounds

His neighbour Rancevs had started banging on his door at 01:00. Mr Smith called the police who came out and told Rancevs to go back inside his own flat.

Heart attack

At 09:30 the following morning Rancev - 32 at the time - was seen throwing rubbish at former soldier Mr Smith outside the flats and shouting at him. He then pushed Mr Smith three times on the chest until he fell.

Rancevs continued to kick him on the head while he was down and then dragged him between two parked cars.

He climbed onto the bonnet of one of the cars and jumped onto Mr Smith. The pensioner was pronounced dead in hospital.

Another neighbour, 75-year-old John Whyte, had called 999 from his flat to report the attack after being struck by Rancevs too. Police did not realise he had died from a heart attack while making the call until hours later.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Martyn Smith and John Whyte died in October 2018

It emerged that Rancevs' stepfather had called the local mental health team and police with concerns over his aggressive behaviour three days before the deaths.

Linda Boyle, Mr Smith's partner of 17 years, told BBC Reporting Scotland that lessons must be learned from this tragic case.

'Horrendous act of violence'

She said: "I still can't believe it. That day feels like it happened just a few weeks ago.

"When I heard that Rancev's stepfather had phoned the mental health staff and police because he was seriously concerned about him being a threat and dangerous, I just felt numb.

"When Martyn called the police they hadn't been given that vital information and they just told him to go back inside and stop being a nuisance. There was no hope for Martyn in the following hours.

"I feel so angry that a horrendous act of violence was allowed to happen."

Image caption Martyn Smith was a keen sailor and he and Linda enjoyed trips on his boat

She felt the alarm should have been raised when the report was made to police.

She said: "I am so angry that this man's family had tried to do something and nothing had got through to the front line. If something had been done this would not have happened."

She hopes this will never happen to anyone else.

She said: "That man did his best to call the right people and I am heartbroken it was not acted on. To lose somebody like this is just awful and is something you don't ever get over"

From TV dancing star to seriously ill and capable of violence

Image caption Oskars Rancevs was a ballroom dancer who appeared on dancing shows in his native Latvia

Oskars Rancevs was a TV personality in his native Latvia, after appearing on Strictly-style dancing shows.

But he had a long history of serious mental illness and had even written a book on Schizophrenia.

He moved to the UK in 2015 and two years later spent time sectioned in a psychiatric hospital.

By October 2018 he was unable to work. He was a patient of the local mental health team and his stepfather called them and local police to report his concerns.

In court a psychiatrist said he had bipolar affective disorder when he launched the attack on his two elderly neighbours after a row about rubbish.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs from Police Scotland said: "Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the families and friends of Mr Smith and Mr Whyte.

"Following this incident, relevant guidance was updated to ensure any immediate concerns in relation to critically injured or gravely ill callers are highlighted to supervisors.

"The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) has investigated the circumstances leading up to the deaths of Mr Smith and Mr Whyte.

"As the Pirc's report is still under consideration by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, we are unable to comment further."

The Crown Office told the BBC that a decision would be made on holding a fatal accident inquiry on the conclusion of the Pirc investigation.

Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership said it was a tragic event for the families concerned.

A spokesman said: "Due to patient confidentiality it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the specifics of any case however with any significant incident we would carry out a detailed review of the issues surrounding the event to see if lessons can be learned and whether improvements need to be made to the systems and processes we have in place."

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