Angry scenes erupted in court
today after a murderer who slashed a young mother's throat
was told he could be out of jail in just 10 years.
Mental health outpatient Paul Gottermeyer had already been
sentenced to life imprisonment for what a judge described as
a "horrible attack of the utmost gravity".
On July 11 last year he knifed the woman to death in her
Christchurch home before her 3-year-old daughter found her
lying in a pool of blood.
"Mummy did bleed everywhere .... and mummy scream," she told
The girl now suffers night terrors as she relives the ordeal.
It wasn't until today at the High Court in Christchurch that
the 30-year old market gardener from Kaiapoi was told that
his minimum non-parole period will be 10 years.
In reaching his decision, Justice John Fogarty said: "I know
it's not going to be popular with the family."
The public gallery, with about 30 family members and friends
of the murdered 24-year-old, were disgusted by the decision.
"It's an injustice," shouted one woman.
"If that was your daughter..." said another.
The disbelief soon soon turned to anger directed at
Gottermeyer standing in the dock.
"You're a murderer!" shouted one woman.
"You dirty, filthy rotten bastard, I hope you die," screamed
Security cleared the court while further outbursts were
directed at defence counsel Tony Greig.
Women wailed and the family hugged outside court.
Justice Fogarty reached his conclusion based on the expert
opinion of three consultant forensic psychiatrists.
Gottermeyer was an outpatient at Hillmorton psychiatric
hospital and all of the experts concluded that he had been
suffering from severe depression.
But they said it was difficult to say how severe his
depression was at the time of the killing, or how much blame
for what happened could be apportioned to his depression.
Canterbury DHB consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Helen
Austin said it was impossible to say whether Gottermeyer
would have killed if he wasn't depressed.
"Depression is one of many factors that played a part. Human
behaviour is very complex and driven by many different
factors," she said.
"Depression is an incredibly common mental illness ... and on
the other hand, homicide is a very rare event."
Dr David Chaplow agreed.
However, defence witness Philip Brinded, associate professor
of psychiatry, concluded "but for the depression the homicide
may not have occurred".
"I believe the symptoms of depression and the way depression
changes a person's thinking was an important contributing
factor to this particularly tragic event."
The Crown suggested a starting point for a minimum non-parole
period was 17 years.
But Justice Fogarty said that sentence "simply cannot be
imposed justly" in this case.
Given that Gottermeyer had a previously unblemished record,
he believed it was unlikely that he would offend again if his
depression was addressed.
"This is conduct out of character. I'm assuming you will
recover from your depression over the minimum term of
imprisonment," the judge said.
Gottermeyer left home at 7am on July 11 last year with a
large kitchen knife and drove to the woman's house.
He was let inside where he knocked her to the ground, and
stabbed her 12 times in the head, hands, chest, and back,
before slashing her throat.
When he was arrested, he said the girl had not seen the
attack. He said he closed the kitchen door and left water,
biscuits, and a mandarin for the girl before driving home.
The woman's body was found when her partner came home later
that morning to check why she had not arrived at work. He
found the daughter crying and upset.
Gottermeyer's victim and her daughter have been granted
permanent name suppression.