Doncaster dad stabbed to death in unprovoked and 'frenzied attack'

Eric Flanagan suffered fatal injuries during an attack at a property in Surrey Street, Balby
Eric Flanagan suffered fatal injuries during an attack at a property in Surrey Street, Balby

A 26-year-old Doncaster dad died from stab wounds he suffered in an unprovoked and 'frenzied attack' carried out by a former soldier who had been drinking and taking crack cocaine.

Eric Flanagan passed away in hospital on December 15, 2016 from the multiple injuries he suffered in the sustained assault that took place exactly a month earlier at a property in Surrey Street, Balby.

Pathologist, Dr Charles Wilson, confirmed Mr Flanagan died of pneumonia and hypoxic ischaemic brain damage caused by multiple injuries.

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Senior Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a conclusion of unlawful killing, and said she was satisfied the attack was unprovoked.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Flanagan's mother, Carol Flanagan, said of her son: “I would describe him as a bit of a soft touch, who would do anything for anyone. He was not in the least bit prone to violence, which makes the manner of his death all the more shocking.”

“He loved music and dancing, and had a great sense of humour. Despite his difficulties there was always a sense that all he needed was to find a focus and his full potential would be realised.”

During Mr Flanagan's inquest at Doncaster Coroners' Court, the court was told how Jennifer Swift, who was legally known as Jonathan Swift, stabbed dad-of-two, Eric Flanagan, numerous times to the face, chest and right arm before attacking him with a shovel some time between 5.30pm and 6pm on November 15.

The attack took place at the home of Howard Smith, who had agreed to let Swift, a long-standing friend, stay with him for a few days after she travelled to the area from Liverpool to give her son his Christmas presents.

Swift, who was transitioning to become a woman and was taking non-prescription hormones, fled the property shortly after carrying out the attack.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Benjamin Harris told the court that police later found Swift covered in blood and lying on grass near to the Hare and Tortoise pub in Bawtry Road, Bessacarr at around 10.47pm that evening. Forensic scientest, Michelle Walton, said the DNA profile of the blood found on Swift's clothing matched that of Mr Flanagan.

Police arrested Swift, and subsequently charged her with attempted murder on November 17 in connection with the attack. She was then remanded into custody at HMP Doncaster, a male-only prison facility.

Giving evidence at court today, Paul Kirkham, another friend of Mr Smith's, described how in the run-up to the shocking attack he, Swift and Mr Smith had been drinking and had taken crack cocaine. Mr Smith left the property prior to the incident taking place.

Mr Kirkham said he was first alerted to the attack when he heard shouting coming from the kitchen as he walked down the stairs.

“He [Swift] was shouting something along the lines of ‘you f*****g grass’. I heard Eric shouting as well.”

Mr Kirkham said he then saw Swift pick up a red-handled kitchen knife from the sink area and stab Mr Flanagan in the chest, which caused him to fall to floor. He said Swift continued stabbing Mr Flanagan as he was on the floor.

"I shouted and said: 'stop f****** doing that. He turned round and gave me the most evilist look I've ever seen, and I knew he would go for me next so I popped out the back door and ran away," added Mr Kirkham, who said he had 'no idea' what had prompted the unprovoked attack.

Mr Kirkham found Mr Smith a short time later, and the pair returned to the property and called the emergency services at around 6.07pm.

Paramedic, Darren Matthews, attended the incident and described the incident as 'the worst stabbing I've seen during my time with the ambulance service'.

He added: "I was surprised that he was still alive as it looked as though he had been subjected to a frenzied attack."

DC Harris said that while in police custody Swift, who served in the armed forces, admitted she had 'done wrong'.

He added: "She said she'd hold her hands up and do her time'."

DC Harris said that pyschiatric nurse Janet Eagleton assessed Swift on November 17, and determined that she was suffering from a personality disorder but said she did not believe Swift was experiencing a period of pyschosis at that time.

Swift, 49, of Seaford, Liverpool was later found hanged in her cell at HMP Doncaster on December 30, the court heard.

DC Harris said it was the Crown Prosecution Service's intention to charge Swift with Mr Flanagan's murder, but she passed away before this was carried out.

Ms Mundy passed on her 'deepest condolonces' to Mr Flanagan's family, and praised them for the 'dignity' they displayed throughout the one-day hearing.

An inquest into Swift's death is due to be held later this year.