Staff at a mental health facility made at least three calls
and sent a fax to police advising a dangerous female
inpatient had fled.
But despite their calls and police sending a car to the
street where the patient was believed to have fled to, the
woman killed her neighbour with a hammer.
A coronial inquest in to the death of Diane Elizabeth White
began in Hamilton this morning.
Ms White died after her neighbour, Christine Judith Morris,
went to her Blackburn St flat and struck her multiple times
with a hammer on January 19, 2010.
Morris, who is profoundly deaf and has borderline personality
disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, pleaded guilty to her
She was sentenced to life in prison in April 2012.
A Henry Bennett Centre (HBC) staff member, whose name is
suppressed, told the inquest there was a history of arguing
between Morris and Ms White.
Morris, a voluntary inpatient at HBC, argued that Ms White
and her boyfriend had "made her life miserable and spread
rumours that she was a mental health patient".
He said her state worsened when her five-month-old son was
taken into Child, Youth and Family care, not long before she
killed Ms White.
"At this point Ms Morris … made direct threats to the lives
of her two neighbours and due to these threats I told her I
was unable to discharge her," said the staff member.
Morris' anger had reached a "critical level" but she asked to
take a cigarette break before she was sedated.
She instead scaled a wall and escaped the facility and headed
to her Blackburn St flat.
Asked whether a DHB duty authorised officer should have been
sent to Morris' home, given the threats she had made, or
whether it would have helped, the staff member answered: "I
honestly do not know".
The inquest heard how HBC staff called police at least three
times between 10.30am and 12pm and sent a fax advising that
Morris had fled.
Sergeant Murray Stapp said Morris went to a neighbor's house,
where she had a cup of tea prior to the attack.
The neighbour contacted the HBC telling them where Morris was
but police could not find her.
She called police when she saw Morris in blood-stained
clothes not long after.
The inquest before Coroner Peter Ryan is set down until
Friday with 14 witnesses to give evidence.
- James Ihaka of the New Zealand Herald