In the days before Mert Ney emerged from a Sydney CBD apartment block, covered in the blood of a young woman he’d allegedly stabbed to death, he was nowhere to be found.
Police were looking for the 20-year-old after he’d been involved in a confrontation with his family in their Marayong home, in the city’s west, just seven days before the tragic events of Tuesday afternoon.
Cops arrived at the house to reports of a disturbance but, by the time they arrived, Ney had fled the scene.
The next time they would see him was a week later when he was allegedly brandishing a large kitchen knife and soaked in blood — having murdered Michaela Dunn, 24, inside a Clarence Street apartment and stabbed Linda Bo, 41, in the back.
But as cops searched for him that week, they were unaware that Ney was living in government emergency housing and could easily have been found.
After the family argument, CCTV footage shows that Ney arrived at the Blacktown Hospital’s emergency department at 12.15am on August 7 after suffering a prescription drug overdose.
According to The Australian, a voice can be heard in the footage saying: “Something’s not right with this guy.”
Melinda Ettery, a patient in the emergency room that day, told the Channel 7 Ney was “loud and boisterous, being rude to nurses and doctors” when he arrived.
Less than two days later Ney went to a local GP and said he was having suicidal thoughts.
Concerned, the doctor called police. However, Ney managed to evade them once again.
Seven News reports that one of Ney’s mates sent him a message at this point, telling him: “You are going to get locked up or killed very soon.”
Ney replied: “Yah, I wanna die. Tried to kill myself in two days. Didn’t work.”
Police say Ney turned up at Blacktown Hospital again later that day. He was assessed, but left just hours later.
The Australian reports that Ney spent the next three days in emergency accommodation at a community house in Blacktown. And, nobody thought to tell cops he was there.
“We only found out afterwards (after Tuesday’s incident) that he had been in emergency accommodation,” said a police source told the newspaper. “Police were searching for him and we had concerns, but it’s still a mystery to us why we didn’t get a call.”
A teenage couple, Courtney Ridgeway, 19, and Nathan Tgiy, 16, described Ney as “agitated” and “scary” when they stayed in a room next door to his half way house in Blacktown.
They said heard the 20-year-old loudly discussing terrorism on his phone an information he had on USB stick.
“He was talking about terrorism and Allahu Akbar – he loved that word, he was saying it a lot,” Ms Ridgeway told 9News.
“I think he had it planned what he was going to do the next day. He just said he had a USB and was researching, studying what was on it.”
The next time Ney was seen, he was spotted on CCTV entering the Clarence Street apartment building on Tuesday at 1.30pm and leaving about 20 minutes later, before allegedly stabbing Ms Bo in the back.
A homeless couple told The Daily Telegraph Ney took a knife from a government emergency accommodation home to carry out his alleged crimes.
Yesterday, Ney’s sister told reporters outside the family’s Marayong home that Ney had been domestically violent in the lead-up to the incident and suffered several mental illnesses.
She said she didn’t want to go near him and described his alleged actions as “despicable”.
“All the words I can say won’t ever bring her back. I want to say I’m really sorry, she was defenceless,” said Ney’s sister, who asked not to be named.
Police say Ney was carrying a USB stick with information about recent mass casualties in New Zealand and the United States, and could be heard on video footage shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
But his sister didn’t believe he subscribed to extremist ideology. “All this stuff about extremism, white supremacy, stuff like that, that’s news to me ... it was using religion as an excuse,” she said.
Ney remains under police guard in hospital and is yet to be interviewed by police about the incident that brought the city’s streets to a standstill.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor described the circumstances as “tragic” and have ordered a review.
“As with any critical incident, NSW Health will be reviewing all aspects of the care and treatment of the alleged perpetrator,” they said in a joint statement.
The outcomes of the review will be provided to the ministers once complete.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the rampage had not yet been classed as a terrorist incident and the “lone actor” — who is likely to be charged soon — had no known links to terrorist organisations.
“You would say with some confidence that he went on the street to kill more people, and the fact she’s alive is a miracle,” Mr Fuller said.
He then walked down York Street, armed with a large kitchen knife, before the bystanders’ efforts to restrain him with chairs and a milk crate. Ney has undergone surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for a cut to his knee. He is expected to be charged with murder, as well as serious assault.
The commissioner again praised the members of the public who helped restrain the 20-year-old, labelling them “true heroes”.
Where to get help:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (for under 18s)
What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds 1pm–10pm weekdays and 3pm–10pm weekends)
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463
Healthline – 0800 611 116