A judge has called for a psychiatric report into the mental
health of a killer just two days before he was due to be
sentenced - casting doubt over whether the hearing will go
The family of a Christchurch woman murdered by a 29-year-old
farmhand on July 11 will now decide whether he will be
sentenced on Thursday, or whether they should wait to hear
his mental state at the time of the killing.
The killer has had name suppression since he was arrested
just hours after the female victim was found dead inside a
It is understood the woman was fatally assaulted with a
The suppression order was put in place to protect the
identity of the victim's 4-year old daughter.
The man, from Kaiapoi, 15km north of Christchurch, was on
medication at the time of the murder, and an outpatient at
Christchurch's Hillmorton Hospital.
He pleaded guilty last month after being found fit to plead
by a psychiatrist and was due to be sentenced at the High
Court in Christchurch on Thursday.
But today in a surprise hearing before Justice John Fogarty,
Thursday's sentencing was cast into doubt.
The man's lawyer Tony Greig asked for a psychiatrist's report
under section 104 of the Criminal Procedures (Mentally
Impaired Persons) Act to be considered before his client can
He said his client suffers from a "significant depressive
illness" which needs to be taken into account when sentence
But the victim's family have made plans to be at court on
A number of them plan to read out victim impact statements
and see justice being served. One family member is travelling
Justice Fogarty proposed sentence to go ahead as planned, and
to impose the mandatory life imprisonment, but to then
adjourn to a later date to allow for the report to be
completed before deciding the man's minimum period of
The judge asked for the new psychiatric report to consider
not the offence or its gravity, but to provide an
"appreciation of his state of mental health" at the time of
The report should include notes on why he was still on
medication, why he was at outpatient at Hillmorton when the
murder occurred, and any other clinical observations which
would assist the court in judging "to what extent his history
of depression and associated episodes" should be taken into
account in assessing a period of imprisonment.
Crown prosecutor Anselm Williams said he would like the
police to speak with family members to see if they are happy
with that, before making submissions.
If they wanted to wait for the psychiatric report, sentencing
could be put off to a later date.
It was up to the family to decide, Justice Fogarty said.
The Crown has until noon tomorrow to speak to family members
and come back to the court with a decision.
Final suppression orders would be made after Judge Fogarty
considered new legislation.
But he said he was "currently favouring the view" that the
man's name would not be suppressed, but the victim and girl's
Mr Greig said his client, who wanted sentencing to go ahead
as soon as possible, wanted name suppression, not for him,
but for the victim and little girl.