THE family of a man who stabbed his ex-lover to death feel his victim could have been saved if someone had listened to their pleas for help.

Martin Bunch, 44, of Southchurch Road, Southend, was jailed for 27 years earlier this month after being convicted of the murder of mother-of-three Jeanette Goodwin. Bunch stormed into the 47-year-old’s home in Quebec Avenue, Southend, on July 24 last year and stabbed her dozens of times with a kitchen knife.

However, his family, who repeatedly tried to have Bunch sectioned under the Mental Health Act, believe the horrendous attack could have been avoided if the authorities had acted sooner.

Paula Hayes, 42, Bunch’s former partner of 24 years and mother of his three children, said: “We had tried every possible avenue to get help. “There was nowhere else to try, and that’s the most frightening feeling.”

His sister, Sam, added: “I think if someone had listened to us, Jeanette could still be alive.”

Bunch’s family said his problems began nine years ago, when he began to drink heavily after a series of tragedies. Over a six-year period between 2003 and 2009,

Bunch’s nephew, Robbie Webb, died in a crash on his 16th birthday, his daughter, Abbie, was involved in a horrific car crash which left her in a wheelchair and Ms Hayes lost a leg to gangrene.

After he was prescribed anti-depressants and made attempts to kill himself, Bunch began to completely lose control. In April 2011, he started repeatedly getting arrested and ignoring his bail conditions when released.

Bunch’s family said he would disappear for days, before showing up at a relative’s home in a mess. They sought help from the South Essex Partnership Trust, which deals with mental health issues, but found their attempts to get Bunch sectioned repeatedly rebuffed. In July last year, two weeks before he attacked Mrs Goodwin, Bunch met Dr Lars Davidsson.

Ms Hayes claimed Bunch told the psychiatrist he was a “danger” to himself and wanted to be locked up, but Dr Davidsson said nothing could be done, because Bunch appeared to be drunk.

When he returned two days later, he was diagnosed with acute depression and told he would receive a letter scheduling intense therapy.

The letter had not arrived by the time he stabbed Mrs Goodwin.

The family claimed they later discovered Bunch was being seen by four different branches of the trust, but none were aware of the others' involvement.

Bunch’s sister, Sam, said: “Even if we can’t change things for my brother, hopefully we can change things for the future.

“Mental health authorities must take more note of what families are saying, because the last person to admit they’ve got mental health problems is the person suffering.”