| 7.8°C Dublin

Red flags Tragic mum killed by son in double murder-suicide had raised fears about his behaviour

It is thought that Karen McClean was concerned that her son had been using drugs again and was afraid that he would either get into trouble with the police or that he would hurt himself or someone else.

Close

Ken Flanagan murdered his mother Karen before killing girlfriend Stacey

Ken Flanagan murdered his mother Karen before killing girlfriend Stacey

Ken Flanagan murdered his mother Karen before killing girlfriend Stacey

The mother of killer Ken Flanagan, who was murdered by her son before he went on to kill his girlfriend, Stacey Knell, and himself on Friday of last week, was concerned about her son's behaviour in the months before the tragedy, the Sunday World understands.

Sources close to the family said Karen McClean (50), who was stabbed to death by Flanagan in her Rathcoole home in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, had raised concerns with a former friend of Ms Knell (30), who was buried on Friday.

It is thought that Ms McClean was concerned that her son had been using drugs again after several attempts to get clean and was afraid that he would either get into trouble with the police or that he would hurt himself or someone else.

One source said: "Karen was concerned about the relationship Ken had with Stacey. It was nothing to do with Stacey herself, who she liked, it was that Karen was actually worried about Ken being in a relationship where a child was present because he had a reputation as a bit of a tearaway and had addiction problems in the past.

"For years, Karen's heart was broken over Ken's addiction issues, but she remained a doting mother and was always there for him. At times the pair were at loggerheads with each other, but Karen really did her best to try and keep Ken on the straight and narrow.

"It wasn't that she was against Ken having a relationship with Stacey, it was that she was concerned about Ken having a relationship at all until he got himself sorted out and on the right path.

"A few people were trying to make Stacey aware of Ken. There was a feeling that something was going to go wrong, but nobody thought that Stacey was going to be killed."

The source also said, that while two families have been left devastated, the situation could have escalated had Stacey's daughter been present.

They explained: "Nobody really knows what kind of mental state Ken was in when he did this. The only person that knows what was going on in his head was Ken.

"So it's a good thing Stacey's daughter wasn't present whenever Ken attacked her mother. Who knows what mind state he was in ... He could have hurt the child as well - or worse.

"Even if the young girl had have witnessed it, it would have had a devastating effect on her for the rest of her life, even though the current circumstances and what she's been through will always be with her. The whole situation is heartbreaking beyond the pale."

Close

Stacey Knell was killed by boyfriend Ken Flanagan

Stacey Knell was killed by boyfriend Ken Flanagan

Stacey Knell was killed by boyfriend Ken Flanagan

Stacey Knell was buried on Friday, with the funeral leaving from her mother's house in the Sydenham area of east Belfast before she was taken to Roselawn.

The funeral was restricted in numbers due to coronavirus regulations.

After her murder, Ms Knell's friend set up a Go Fund Me page in order to help the victim's family with funeral preparations.

Donations soon began flooding into the appeal, and at the time of writing, it has almost doubled its £1,500 target.

The excess money will go to Ms Knell's daughter - left without a mother after the horror last weekend.

It is also understood there is palpable anger among Ms Knell's friends that nothing had been done to prevent the tragedy from happening, even though her former partner contacted social services and the PSNI on the same day the killings took place to say he was fearful something bad would happen.

Sam Lillie spoke to the Sunday World last week and revealed that he had walked into Musgrave Street police station and voiced his concerns that Flanagan, whose behaviour Mr Lillie said "raised so many red flags", was in the presence of his young daughter due to Flanagan's ongoing relationship with Ms Knell.

Close

Mum Karen McClean was killed by her son

Mum Karen McClean was killed by her son

Mum Karen McClean was killed by her son

Speaking of going to the police, Mr Lillie said: "When I asked to make a report they told me they only investigate crimes. They said they can't advise Stacey and 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 reason why alarm bells started ringing was because [last] Wednesday I saw Ken with Stacey and 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."

The police confirmed Mr Lillie had been present at the station last Friday and that they had given him a reference number.

He added: "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 really tried my best. I tried to raise awareness and nobody did anything about it.

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

Close

Tragic scenes at the funeral of Stacey Knell

Tragic scenes at the funeral of Stacey Knell

Tragic scenes at the funeral of Stacey Knell

On social media, before her death, Ms McClean posted a poignant message about what she described as people seeing her 'kindness as weakness'.

The post read: 'I'm done trying to see the good in takers ADDICTS fake PPL ... trying to help them, taking my kindness as weakness..... LESSON LEARNT .!!!!'

Underneath Ms McClean's words was a meme with the message: 'Ignoring the red flags because you wanna see the good in people will cost you later.'

In another heartbreaking post, Ms McClean spoke of her son's battle with addiction and her fears for him during the coronavirus pandemic.

She wrote: 'So proud of my beautiful son Ken staying clean ... I've finally got him back. I pray he continues to beat his disease of addiction .... Anybody judges him or any addict calls them junkies especially when they've took or tried drugs ... is hypocritical! Walk a mile in my shoes as a loving devoted mother ... Addicts r so vulnerable to corona v immune system very low. They still need love... I love you son stay strong.'

Meanwhile, tributes have continued to flood in for the popular and much-loved Ms Knell on social media.

One person posted: 'Rest easy beautiful girl. You have been robbed of your precious young life. May God watch over your beautiful daughter and family and ease there pain. My thought go out to the entire family. God bless.'

Another said: 'Hope she gets the send of she deserves my beautiful best friend gone far too soon abs heartbroken. Thoughts with all the family sweet dreams angel xxx'.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World


Top Videos





Privacy