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HomeNew ZealandDeadly prison assault: Attacker detained in hospital after diagnosis

Deadly prison assault: Attacker detained in hospital after diagnosis

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Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

A man who killed his cellmate at Manawatū Prison near Palmerston North will be detained in hospital as a special patient under mental health compulsory treatment laws.

The man will also keep his name secret until at least April, when the issue of suppression is back before the court.

Last year, the man was found unfit to stand trial on a charge of murdering Bradley King in February 2021, but was found to have caused King’s death.

At a brief hearing in the High Court at Palmerston North today, Justice Helen Cull, KC, made the order that the man will be a special patient.

She said the hearing was kept short because the man, who was watching over an AVL link while sitting next to his parents, was unwell and might not be able to last through a long hearing. The law required him to be present when the decision was handed down.

King, 36, was in custody on remand while facing burglary charges. The man assaulted him in the cell they shared on 11 February, 2021, and King died of his injuries in Wellington Hospital 13 days later.

Justice Cull said psychiatrist Dr Caroline Holmes diagnosed the man with schizophrenia.

“In particular, she mentions that [the man] demonstrates a complete lack of insight,” the judge said of Holmes’ report.

It found the man was “acting on delusional beliefs”.

“He continues to lack insight about his illness and the impact of his offending.”

Justice Cull said the man posed a significant risk to the public, and required treatment.

“This case has had tragic consequences for the victim, the victim’s family and friends, as well as your own family and your close friends,” the judge told the man.

He was in custody facing charges including assaulting a child and trespass.

Defence lawyer Nicola Graham said the man’s parents passed condolences to King’s family, and said they would participate in restorative justice if King’s family decided that was appropriate.

Graham said the man was granted interim name suppression in 2021 because of the effect naming him could have on him.

Before April, she would get a expert report on the suppression issue.

“What we do know is that [the man] remains seriously unwell. It’s been two years, nearly. He hasn’t regained fitness and he’s still in the most secure mental health facility we have in this country.”

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