No one told cops suspect was in emergency housing
WHILE police were searching for the man accused of Tuesday's deadly knife rampage, he was living in government emergency housing.
In a breakdown of the system which may have proved fatal, there were no protocols in place for Communities and Justice to liaise with police or health authorities who had already alerted officers about Mert Ney's potential danger six days before the attack.
He was being hunted by police after allegedly punching his sister Yazel in the face and choking her at the family's Western Sydney home and then discharging himself from Blacktown Hospital where he had gone at midnight on Wednesday after a drug overdose.
Ney, 20, had sought emergency housing while at the hospital and was initially approved for a four-day stay in the Blacktown area. Fellow residents said that was extended by three days and that he left there early on Tuesday before allegedly creating terror in Sydney's CBD.
The housing was provided by Communities and Justice, formerly known as Family and Community Services, which on Wednesday confirmed it was helping police with their inquiries.
"As this is currently a police investigation, we cannot make any further comment," a spokeswoman said.
When the new super-ministry bringing the two departments together was announced earlier this year, it promised to "bring all government services targeted at achieving safe, just, inclusive and resilient communities under one roof".
Families, Communities and Disability Services minister Gareth Ward's office said he had nothing to add.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said despite Ney's reported mental health and drug problems, police were treating him as primarily an alleged criminal. He is expected to be charged with murder and other offences.
"I think we can debate this - I think he's a criminal, and I think he came in with the intent to stab and injure people and that's my primary focus," Mr Fuller said.
"The mental health consideration will of course occur through the potential judicial process. I think anyone who commits an act of mass killings, I mean how can they not be mentally ill? But for mine, there are criminal issues first and the issue around mental health is a distant second."
Blacktown Hospital notified police and completed all the "necessary paperwork" after Ney checked himself out last week, just six hours after admitting himself.
His case was referred to Community Health Services, which attempted to get in touch with him via three phone calls and a text message while he was in emergency housing just around the corner from the hospital.
"As with any critical incident, NSW Health will be reviewing all aspects of the care and treatment of the alleged perpetrator and will provide the outcomes of the review to both the Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Health," a spokeswoman for Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Mental Health Minister Bronwyn Taylor said.
More details of Ney's increasingly erratic behaviour before the bloody CBD attack emerged on Wednesday as court documents showed he had developed a fascination for weapons years ago.
Police found a black knuckle duster and a plastic black and green toy Glock pistol on his bedroom shelves on April 5 after being called to his family's home on "an unrelated matter", according to Blacktown Local Court documents.
Ney was taken to Westmead Hospital at the time and later questioned by police when, according to the statement of facts tendered to the court, Ney said he had bought the knuckle duster on the internet "a number of years ago" but had never taken it out of the house.
In June, Ney pleaded guilty to possessing a weapon without a permit and he was sentenced to a nine-month conditional release order.
KNIFE CLAIM AS DAYS LEADING TO SPREE RECREATED
Mert Ney travelled to the city from Blacktown with a plan to kill and then be killed by a cop's gun, detectives believe.
As police try to piece together the events surrounding Ney's murderous spree on Tuesday, where he allegedly slashed a sex worker's throat and stabbed a woman on a CBD street, a homeless couple have claimed he took a knife from a government emergency accommodation home.
Officers from Strike Force Lalchere, set up by the NSW Homicide Squad, have established Ney spent about 20 minutes in the Clarence St apartment building of 24-year-old sex worker Michaela Dunn, where he allegedly killed her.
They believe unemployed Ney booked Ms Dunn online for a 1.30pm appointment.
CCTV footage shows him entering the apartment block on 104 Clarence Street around that time and he's seen to leave via a fire exit about 20 minutes later, armed with a knife.
"At this stage we don't think there was any prior contact between the two," one investigator said.
"But we have to get phone records of both parties to see if there was any history between them.
"From our early investigations it appears the accused never had any intention of paying the victim for services that he had made arrangements for.
"Likewise it seems clear that he wanted to be killed by police."
After allegedly murdering Ms Dunn, Ney allegedly stabbed Lin Bo, 41, in the shoulder blade on the corner of King and York Streets.
Police are now trying to establish Ney's movements on Tuesday and the days before and where he sourced the knife.
But a homeless couple said Ney was staying at a Community and Justice (formerly FACS) emergency accommodation home in Western Sydney where they were also being housed on Monday night and they woke up on Tuesday morning to find Ney had taken a knife.
Courtney Ridgeway, 19, and Nathan Tgiy, 16, said after declining Ney's offer to "chill" the teens listened to him loudly talk on the phone for hours.
"He was telling us about how he was homeless, how he just got out of hospital, how his mum turned on him and his family turned on him," Ms Ridgeway said.
"He was really anxious, he was weird. All night he was on the phone, he was talking really loudly, it was pretty disturbing."
She said Ney told them he had been approved a four-day stay at the home and had just had a three-day extension.
Ney is in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, yet to be interviewed by police.
- Mark Morri and Campbell Gellie