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'Red flags' PNSI warned about Ken Flanagan hours before he killed his mother and girlfriend

The Sunday World can reveal that a former partner of Ms Knell tried to raise the alarm about of the relationship between "out-of-control" Flanagan, also known as Ken McClean-Flanagan, and Ms Knell.

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Ken Flanagan

Ken Flanagan

Ken Flanagan

Police were warned about violent criminal Ken Flanagan just hours before he butchered his mother and girlfriend in Co Antrim.

Druggie Flanagan killed his mum as well as Stacey Knell in separate knife attacks. Police later found his dying body but were unable to save him.

The double murder has shocked Northern Ireland to the core.

The Sunday World can reveal that a former partner of Ms Knell tried to raise the alarm about of the relationship between "out-of-control" Flanagan, also known as Ken McClean-Flanagan, and Ms Knell.

Sam Lillie, who had a child with Ms Knell, said he contacted social services and visited a police station early on Friday, a day before the horrific chain of events unfolded at around 10pm.

Sam told the Sunday World yesterday: "I contacted social services on Friday and they said they couldn't do anything at short notice, so they advised me to go to the police. They told me the soonest they could look at the situation would be Monday.

"Unfortunately for Stacey, Monday was too late.

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Victim Stacey Knell

Victim Stacey Knell

Victim Stacey Knell

"So I went to Musgrave Police Station on Friday and asked to make a report. They told me they only investigate crimes. They said they can't advise Stacey on who she has a relationship with.

"I said I just wanted them to look into the matter and look into Ken and the fact that he was around my daughter, which was my main concern."

The PSNI is investigating the three deaths after officers were called to an address at Derrycoole Way, Co Antrim, at around 11pm on Friday.

It is understood that is where the body of Flanagan's mother was found.

When police went to an address just a mile away at Glenville Road they found the body of Stacey Knell and an unconscious Ken Flanagan.

First responders applied first aid treatment, but he died at the scene.

Sam added: "The reason why alarm bells started ringing was because on Wednesday I saw Ken with Stacey, my daughter, and that's when the red flags started popping up for me - that's when I realised I had to take some kind of action because I didn't want a guy with his reputation to be near my daughter.

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Sam Lillie and Stacey had a child together.

Sam Lillie and Stacey had a child together.

Sam Lillie and Stacey had a child together.

"I knew I had to ring social, even though me and my family don't do that, we don't ring social on anyone, but this was different. My gut instinct was telling me to do it. I knew something was wrong.

"I knew of Ken and I knew he was bad news. It's not for me to say who my ex-partner goes out with but I just didn't want him being around my daughter.

"I said to them, 'you need to do something'. Then I woke up [yesterday morning] and got a phone call saying Ken had murdered Stacey and his own mother."

A tearful Sam added: "I really tried my best. I tried to raise awareness and nobody did anything about.

"The fact of the matter is I knew Ken was a danger to my daughter, and also Stacey. I knew all about him. I knew he was an unstable man.

"I don't know what to do. I don't know if I should leave the house or who I should speak to. I just don't know what I'm supposed to do at all.

"It could have been my daughter. Just the thought of that absolutely terrifies me. My heart is broken.

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The police cordon at the scene yesterday.

The police cordon at the scene yesterday.

The police cordon at the scene yesterday.

"I was trying to look after my daughter because I knew what he was like. This is a man who stole a car and crashed it not so long ago, and put other people's lives in danger.

"But it's too late. Now Stacey's gone, and Ken's mother's gone and he's gone. I knew something bad was going to happen."

Last night North Area Commander Chief Superintendent Davy Beck said: "Police received a report of concern for the safety of a child yesterday afternoon (Friday, 19th March).

"Following review, there was no evidence of immediate concern for the child's safety and the caller was provided with advice in respect of the matter."

Ms Knell, from the Holywood area of north Down, was murdered in a large country-style house off the Glenville Road, understood to be owned by Flanagan's elderly relatives.

It is also understood Flanagan had been involved in an incident involving a car chase with police before spending time in jail recently.

When he was released, he resumed his relationship with Ms Knell and is said to have been "obsessed" with her.

Sources close to Flanagan's family have described Ken as a "hell-raiser" and "out of control".

On the Glenville Road yesterday morning, a small laneway connecting the main road to the large house where Ms Knell was murdered remained cordoned-off by police.

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Forensics officer at the scene in Derrycoole Way yesterday

Forensics officer at the scene in Derrycoole Way yesterday

Forensics officer at the scene in Derrycoole Way yesterday

There were no signs of any residents inside the property, apart from a small silver hatchback car parked just outside.

Neighbours described the property, which is understood to have been passed down through the killer's family for generations, as a "party house".

In the Derrycoole Way area of Newtownabbey yesterday the Sunday World spoke to locals who said they were shocked and saddened that such a heinous murder had taken place on their doorstep.

One told us: "It's so quiet around here. I've lived here for a long time I can't remember anything like this happening here."

Speaking of Ken Flanagan's mother, they said: "The woman who lived in the house kept herself and was very quiet.

"You only ever really saw her when she was going in and out of the house."

As forensics teams searched and examined the scene yesterday morning, the small enclave of one of Europe's largest housing estates remained mute, bar the distant chatter and laughter of children playing in a play park adjacent to the property, and the odd car passing.

Other neighbours said they were unaware that something terrible was happening just yards away from where they lived.

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Police at the scene in Derrycoole Way yesterday

Police at the scene in Derrycoole Way yesterday

Police at the scene in Derrycoole Way yesterday

"I can't believe this happened and I didn't hear anything", said one.

"I didn't even know the woman, and have been speaking to other neighbours this morning who say the same thing.

"The thing is, people come and go here all the time. It's not like it was years ago when you have someone living in the estate for years. Nowadays people are moving in here for a couple of months and then they're gone again.

"As far as I know, the woman who was murdered hadn't been here for a very long time."

At the Glenville murder scene, DUP MLA Paula Bradley said: "This was horrendous news to waken up to this morning. To hear the lives of two women have been lost, and also the man as well.

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DUP MLA Paula Bradley

DUP MLA Paula Bradley

DUP MLA Paula Bradley

"Violence against women and girls is prevalent throughout all of our society, not just in the UK, but across the world." Alliance MLA John Blair said: "This is a sad and shocking set of circumstances.

"My thoughts and sympathies are with the families concerned in what they are going through at this time. There is a sense of shock in the wider Newtownabbey community upon hearing this tragic news."

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell of the PSNI said: "Just after 10.55pm on Friday evening, police received a report of a stabbing at a residential property in the Derrycoole Way area. Officers attended, along with colleagues from NIAS. Sadly, a woman has been pronounced dead.

"As officers carried out further inquiries, they attended a residential property in the Glenville Road area. An unconscious male was located in the property. Despite the provision of first aid, the male was pronounced dead. On searching the property, another deceased female was located.

"While we have launched a murder investigation, we are not looking for anyone else in connection with these incidents which we believe are connected.

"We would urge anyone with any information which may assist our investigation to contact 101 and quote reference number 2441 of 19/03/21."

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