A man who survived a murderous rampage which claimed three lives hopes to be home for Christmas.
Keith Bremner is recuperating at a rehabilitation centre after being stabbed by his schizophrenic son Ross last October. Keith's wife, Clare, 60, was killed and Ross went on to kill two other people before taking his own life.
Nine months on and 65-year-old Keith can to talk but is still unable to walk due to the injuries he suffered.
Dennis Kaumoana, the Bremner's next-door neighbour, told the Herald on Sunday Keith was now aware his wife and son were dead, but he did not know how "which is a blessing".
His hopes to return to the family's Otorahonga home are on hold until it is modified so he can independently move around the property.
It's understood ACC has referred an external independent supplier to assess what modifications are needed.
ACC would not discuss the case, but Kaumoana said an engineer had been to the house.
"It's a four-bedroom house and it took him three to four hours measuring every room corner to corner," said Kaumoana.
"The plan includes building new ramps, widening the doors for Keith's wheelchair, and installing an internal lift. I was shocked when he said it would take nearly two years for the house to be 'viable' for Keith to live in.
"I said 'I'm no builder but I reckon I could slap one up in 3 - 4 months'."
Kaumoana said Keith could talk but not walk, but was still keen to get back home as soon as possible.
"He is paralysed on the left side of his body. After the attack Keith had strokes between here and Waikato hospital. He stays in touch with most of his friends on his mobile".
Ross, 34, a diagnosed schizophrenic, fatally stabbed his mother and left Keith with serious knife wounds after the frenzied attack. Keith and Clare have two daughters - Loren and Kylie - who were not at the property when the attack happened.
After a three day manhunt, Ross's body was found alongside those of Maurice O'Donnell, 72, and his wife Mona Tuwhangai, 82, at the couple's property near Kawhia, about 65km away.
Kaumoana is also a relative of the victims in Kawhia. "The family haven't told Keith about my cousins, it's better that way. He has enough to cope with losing his wife and son. I don't think there is any sense adding more pressure to his grief, it's not his fault."
After the attack Keith was in a coma for nearly two months.
Friend Phil Collins, who has known Keith and Clare for over 20 years, said Keith was improving and getting "back to cracking jokes".
"He wants to go home. He's so determined he can lift the leg up that was paralysed so he has a bit of movement now."
Collins once ran a Karaoke business and got Keith hooked on music. "Of course he couldn't sing for s*** but he gave it a bloody good go great in the end," he said.
Collins played Keith's favourite Karaoke songs from his laptop during hospital visits.
"His favourite song was Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World. When he came out of the coma he said 'Cheers for playing music to me'. So I was pleased he heard it."
Ross was an outpatient at Waikato Hospital's Mental Health and Addiction services but he had a number of brief inpatient stays in Henry Bennett Centre, from October 2003 to January 2007. Since May 2013 he had lived in the community under the care of his GP and the support of relevant DHB services.
It's been widely reported that two weeks before the attacks Clare pleaded with the Waikato District Health Board for help because she became increasingly worried about her son's state of mind.
Collins said that just two days before the fatal stabbing, Clare told him that Ross was in a "bad way".
"They said he wouldn't leave his room and just stare at the walls - like the lights are on but no one's home. Obviously Ross was building up to something which is why Clare was so desperate for help. "
Waikato District Health board has completed a Serious Event Review Report into the care and treatment of Ross Bremner. A spokeswoman said it wouldn't be released publicly until Keith had seen it.
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