Lake Macquarie mental health advocate and volunteer allegedly killed by daughter

The Redhead house where a woman, 73, was stabbed to death. Photo: Newcastle HeraldA woman, 73, allegedly killed by her daughter at Redhead, in Lake Macquarie, on Saturday was an advocate and volunteer for mental-health services in the Hunter.
Shanghai night field

Gail Parnell was found dead inside her home at The Sanctuary mobile-home park on Kalaroo Road about 6.30pm, reports the Newcastle Herald. She had suffered multiple stab wounds in an alleged frenzied attack by her daughter, Keren Parnell, 36.

Gail’s husband, John Parnell, suffered minor injuries, including scratches and bruises to both arms, police said. He was taken to John Hunter Hospital but later discharged.

Keren Parnell, of New Lambton, was arrested at the home and later charged with murder, using an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence and detaining a person with intent to obtain an advantage and cause actual bodily harm.

She did not leave the courthouse cells or apply for release in Newcastle Bail Court on Sunday morning.

Her legal-aid solicitor said Keren Parnell had “significant mental and physical health issues” and asked for her to  be seen by a nurse while in custody.

Her matter was adjourned to Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

Police have also applied for an apprehended violence order on behalf of Mr Parnell against his daughter. Both parents had been board members for the Association of the Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI) Hunter.

The organisation  aims to provide  support services for the families and carers of people with a mental illness.

ARAFMI committee treasurer Garry Fowkes was deeply shocked to hear of Gail Parnell’s death. Mr Fowkes said she had been a board member for some years and had acted as a carer to two of her children and her husband after he had a stroke a few years ago.

“She was a beautiful, gentle, caring person,” Mr Fowkes said. “That’s the best way to sum her up.”

Saturday was World Mental Health Day and October is Mental Health Month in NSW.

Mr Fowkes said ARAFMI had been organising the annual mental health walk of pride for October 24 “to celebrate how far we’ve come with destigmatising mental illness”.

“For this sort of thing to happen to one of our members so close to that event is going to be heartbreaking,” he said.

It is believed Mr and Mrs Parnell moved to the Redhead mobile-home park from Swansea about five months ago. Residents of The Sanctuary park said it was generally Redhead’s most peaceful place. Popular with retirees, it is home only to permanent residents.

It is the sort of place where residents leave their doors unlocked to go for a walk. When a throng of ambulances burst through the park gates on Saturday afternoon, residents thought someone had suffered a heart attack.

Then word spread that a crime scene was being set up. “It was such a shock,” one resident said. “I feel so sorry for the family. It’s a very sad situation.”

The park encourages a social atmosphere, but the Parnells preferred to keep to themselves during the few months they lived there, neighbours said.

“If you walked past them they would say g’day and that’s about it,” one resident said.

The Newcastle Herald

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