A violinist was knifed to death in the street at random by a deranged psychiatric patient from Oldham who had decided to ‘stab a Jew’, a Manchester inquest heard yesterday.
Michael Kahan, 39, had gone to buy bagels from a kosher Crumpsall bakery for Sunday breakfast for himself and his wife when he was attacked without warning by Jonathan Mills who had just been discharged from a mental hospital just ten days earlier.
The father of three, a gifted violinist and an expert in a form of Jewish music known as ‘Klezmer’ was knifed twice in the stomach.
An off-duty doctor and nurse who were near the scene tried desperately to revive Mr Khan but he died later in hospital.
Later when interviewed by a psychiatrist, Mills said: “I was having thoughts of attacking a Jew. I got out of the car. I heard a voice saying, ‘Do it. Do it now’.
”I stabbed him twice in the stomach. I didn’t say anything to him. I thought he was Jewish. He looked Jewish.”
It emerged Mills, from Chadderton, near Oldham, Greater Manchester, had a long history of mental illness and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2001 and remained in hospital for nine months.
After being discharged, he was able to manage his condition by taking medication at home, but was again sectioned in September, 2007 before being discharged only ten days before the killing on November 28 2008.
He had been suffering from delusions that Jewish people were preventing him from getting his medication. Now 37, he is being detained in a high-security psychiatric hospital after admitting manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.
Details of the tragedy on June 1 2008 emerged at an inquest in Manchester where the families of both killer and victim united to demand answers from Pennine Care Mental Health Trust as to why the killer had been allowed back on the streets.
Mills’ father Barry Mills, 72, said: ”In my opinion, Jonathan should never have been discharged from hospital. I had no idea he was going to do what he did. But they could have done a lot more for him.”
Mother Patricia, 70, said: ”We want something positive to come out of this. Much more should have been done by the hospital. We don’t want the issues brushed under the carpet. I want this for my son, my family and especially Mrs Kahan.”
The hearing was told former car mechanic Mills, a paranoid schizophrenic had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2001 after showing sings of erratic behaviour.
He was admitted to Parklands House of the Royal Oldham Hospital for nine months.
Mills was proscribed the Clozapine to manage his condition and for five years was reported as ‘relatively stable’ and his mother, Patricia Mills quit her job to look after him full-time.
But in September 2007, on a lower dose of Clozapine, Mills’ condition deteriorated and he was readmitted to hospital. But during one stay he went missing for two days and was found three miles away staying with someone he met in hospital.
On another occasion he managed to smuggle a starting pistol onto the hospital ward.
Mrs Mills said: “He seemed to go downhill. He kept meeting a friend of his who he met in hospital. He started hanging about with him and missing his medication.”
After two months of care in 2007, he was discharged only to be re-admitted in January 2008. He was then discharged from North Manchester General Hospital on May 22 2008 when health officials felt Mills was well enough to return home.
In the days after his release Mills’ parent found him to be ‘very agitated and withdrawn”and reported his condition to Pennine Care on May 29.
Mrs Mills added: ”He wasn’t well that week. I could tell from the way he was acting that he wasn’t taking his medication. It really went downhill in those seven days. He stayed in his bedroom a lot and only came down for meals. Sometimes he wouldn’t eat them as he thought I was poisoning him.”
Two social workers made appointment for Mills to see a psychiatrist on June 3. But 48 hours before the meeting Mills drove to Crumpsall, Manchester, and stabbed Mr Kahan to death whilst the victim was walking to State Fayre kosher bakery near his home.
Mills was arrested the next day at his home and four knives were found in his room.
When interviewed by police he said he didn’t remember what had happened but later said he had been ‘feeling on edge for some time’ and woken up that morning with the thought of going to Crumpsall with a knife.
Mr Kahan, originally from North London, had trained at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and performed as the Klezmer Gourmets and was due to play at a concert in Manchester as part of an event raising awareness about refugees.
He and a clarinettist friend regularly held classes on Eastern European music and performed at weddings and religious events.
Mr Kahan’s wife, Eva, 36, said: ”I just want to say that never have I had any animosity for the Mills. Michael truly was a very special person and it is such a waste he should have died in such circumstances.
”I think every person in my situation says that but he really was special.”
She said her husband had rushed out of the house to buy bagels for breakfast because he was meeting his eldest son Max, then 13, later that morning. Max had been waiting for his father on a nearby street corner with a box of chocolates for Michael’s upcoming 40th birthday.
But his father never arrived and Mrs Kahan became worried when he did not return.
“He was in a rush that morning as he wanted to meet Max,” added Mrs Kahan. ”He went into the bathroom, grabbed some money and did not kiss me goodbye for the first time ever and said he would see me in five minutes.”
After 15 minutes when her husband failed to come home Mrs Kahan went to shop to buy bagels herself only to come across the crime scene. An officer took her to a nearby police station where the terrible news was broken to her.
She added: “When you are heartbroken it is a physical pain and when I was told my heart broke and it has not healed. It is something I will never ever forget. Nobody has approached us to say sorry this has happened.”
John Sharples, of Pennine Care Mental Trust, said documents showed a number of people, including Mill’s parents, were happy for him to be released from hospital.
Manchester assistant coroner Sally Hatfield said it was ‘very dignified and honourable’ for the Mills and Khan families to be so close. The hearing continues.