'Psychotic' killer Conor Clarkson 'pulled the wool over [nurses] eyes' to return home to 'terrified' gran after he 'hissed like a snake' at Blackpool Victoria A&E appointment

A nurse that treated ‘psychotic’ killer, Conor Clarkson, in July 2019 recalls how he had ‘hissed like a snake’ in an A&E cubicle - but he was later sent back home to his terrified gran, Marlene McCabe, who he murdered two months later.
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Mr Clarkson had been ‘crouched on a chair, like a frog’ and ‘hissing at a police officer’ during a triage assessment at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, at 00:16 on Jul 03, 2019.

Police had escorted Conor to A&E, after an incident that left his family ‘fearing for their safety’ at the home they shared in West Park Drive.

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But his aunt, Sharon Whitlow, was ‘irate’ when he returned home just six hours later, saying she felt ‘let down again’ and that Conor had ‘pulled the wool over their eyes’.

Police at the scene of murder at West Park Drive, Blackpool (Picture: Dave Nelson)Police at the scene of murder at West Park Drive, Blackpool (Picture: Dave Nelson)
Police at the scene of murder at West Park Drive, Blackpool (Picture: Dave Nelson)

‘Unusual’ triage appointment

As the Marlene McCabe inquest entered its second week, staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital gave evidence into an A&E visit – months before Conor killed his gran in their home on Sept 04, 2019.

Sister Michelle Turner, a Senior Nurse, recalls how Conor’s ‘unusual’ triage appointment led her to insist he should be seen ‘within the hour’.

At Blackpool Town Hall on March 13, 2023, Michelle told Assistant Coroner, Tim Holloway, that she was ‘cross’ that she hadn’t made a note of his ‘strange behaviour’ in his medical records.

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Sister Turner said: “His presentation – being perched on the chair hissing like a snake – sticks in my mind. Looking back I’m very cross that I didn’t record observations, but I had recently returned back to work from maternity leave and was just getting back into it.”

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Given the wrong patient record

The court also heard how practitioners were unable to view any notes from Conor’s recent visits to the GP, his treatment from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), or his referral for a mental health assessment through Single Point of Access. A mental health nurse who assessed Conor insisted that she had been ‘given the wrong patient record’.

Conor had ‘pulled the wool over their eyes’

Conor told the mental health professional that he ‘regretted’ his actions earlier that night, which included ‘kicking doors’ and ‘standing on the couch shouting Lucifer’, adding that he ‘had a lot of bridges to build with family’.

Carole Middlebrook, Team Leader for the Mental Health Liaison Team, had noted that Conor had talked about cutting down his drinking, and looking for volunteer work – during an assessment at 05:19.

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Carole said: “Part of the assessment is observing [the patient] in the busy hospital environment surrounded by stimulus. I walked past him in the waiting room, and observed [Conor] sat quietly with the police officer. He was calm, sat eating a sandwich and watching TV. Not in any way aggressive.”

But when he returned home just over a hour later, against family wishes, his aunt Sharon made an ‘irate’ call to the hospital, saying Conor had ‘pulled the wool over their eyes’.

Conor was sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Thursday, May 7, 2020. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. He was diagnosed with a severe form of paranoid schizophrenia, and sentenced to indefinite detention in a medium-secure hospital. He is said to be ‘progressing well’ with his treatment.

The inquest continues.