Wife sorely missed

KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014
Steve McGowan
Kelly Dennett
WARM MEMORIES: Steve McGowan, 67, says he has no plans to leave Titirangi after the death of his wife, June, last year.
June McGowan
BRIGHT LIGHT: June McGowan, pictured here shortly before her death, had a wicked sense of humour and always kept people smiling.

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Stab victim Steve McGowan can't see himself leaving Titirangi any time soon.

"What happened here could have happened anywhere," he says.

McGowan and his late wife June were stabbed by their 34-year-old son Max last September in an attack that left him in intensive care and her dead.

The tragedy occurred in their home but McGowan has no plans to leave the house.

"To me it's not a problem because we enjoyed our time here. It's all good memories, it's all warm," he says.

The British migrants came from Liverpool in 1982 and were immediately drawn to Titirangi.

McGowan found a house on Park Rd which his wife initially rejected.

"Reluctantly she came with me to see it," he says.

"She walked in, looked around and said ‘I want it."'

They joined the Titirangi RSA and made friends with a number of expats and Kiwis.

The support from many of those same people since the horrific events of last year has been tremendous, he says.

McGowan says meeting his bubbly wife was the best thing that ever happened to him and both still had plenty planned for the future.

Their 40th anniversary party was a week away and McGowan planned to present her with a ruby ring.

They also had dreams of buying a house in the Mediterranean, cutting back on work and travelling more.

McGowan is critical of the mental health system that he says should be held responsible for his wife's death.

June McGowan worked in the pharmaceutical industry and had a background in nursing.

So it was she who accompanied their youngest son during visits to his GP.

But patient confidentiality meant the McGowans knew little about what was discussed with the doctor.

Max had a history of psychosis, depression and schizophrenia but wasn't referred to specialist services.

"And then of course what happened, happened."

Max was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and is now being treated as a special patient at a psychiatric care centre.

McGowan believes his wife would still be alive if his son had received the same level of attention earlier. The Waitemata District Health Board says it wasn't involved in Max's care for nearly 10 years before his arrest.

Mental health services clinical director Dr Murray Patton says GPs typically decide whether they are confident to manage patients with symptoms of mental conditions themselves.

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But they may also seek specialist advice or refer the person on to mental health services, he says.

"If a family member is concerned about the health of a current mental health services client, they should contact the client's key worker.

"If the person is not under the care of mental health services, they should contact their GP," he says.

- Western Leader

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