Mentally ill Oskars Rancevs detained indefinitely

Columba Court in Dunollie back in October 2018.

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A mentally-ill man acquitted over the deaths of two Oban neighbours has been ordered to be detained indefinitely in the State Hospital at Carstairs.

Last year Oskars Rancevs, 33, was found not guilty of murdering 73-year-old ex-SAS soldier Martyn Smith and killing 75-year-old John Whyte at Columba Court, Castle Road, Oban, because he was ‘very seriously’ mentally ill at the time.

Last Wednesday at the High Court in Glasgow, Judge Lady Rae said he was a serious risk to the public and imposed a compulsion order with a restriction order meaning Rancevs will be held in the State Hospital at Carstairs without limit of time.

Rancevs, a former reality TV dancer and cruise ship performer, came to the UK with his family from his native Latvia in 2015 and found accommodation at Columba Court.

In the lead up to the killings, a number of people expressed concerns about him behaving erratically in a church, a public house and at a cinema. His step-father, Stephen Paterson, who was out the country at the time, contacted the local mental health services and the police with his worries.

The court heard that neighbour Mr Smith had previously complained about Rancevs putting the wrong rubbish in the bin.

At 9.30am on October 1, 2018, Rancevs approached Mr Smith as he stood outside the block of flats talking to Mr Whyte.

He began to throw rubbish from a bin bag at Mr Smith, then walked away before turning back and pushing him on the chest three times.

Mr Smith fell to the ground and, as he tried to get back up, Rancevs, who is 6ft 1in and of muscular build, kicked and jumped on him.

The court heard that the violent attack was captured on mobile phone by another neighbour.

Mr Whyte, who was kicked  twice, dialled 999 and went back into his flat, his conversation with the 999 operator carried on briefly until she did not receive any further response. It was not until 8.10pm that police forced entry to his house after not being able to contact him by phone and found him dead. Mr Whyte, who had longstanding heart disease and high blood pressure, died from cardiac arrest caused by stress.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs from Police Scotland said following this incident that relevant guidance was updated to ensure any immediate concerns in relation to critically injured or gravely ill callers are highlighted to supervisors.

‘The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has investigated the circumstances leading up to the deaths of Mr Smith and Mr Whyte.

‘As the PIRC’s report is still under consideration by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, we are unable to comment further.’

A decision will be made on holding a fatal accident inquiry on the conclusion of the PIRC investigation.

Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership said owing to patient confidentiality it would be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of any case. However, with any significant incident, it would carry out a detailed review of the issues surrounding the event to see if lessons could be learned and whether improvements needed to be made to the systems and processes in place.

Psychiatrists believed Rancevs, who said he was having the best birthday ever and began tap dancing when held at Oban police station, was suffering from bipolar affective disorder with a manic episode.