Life term awaits Amy Farrall killer

The man who murdered Christchurch community support worker Amy Farrall, before going to the West Coast to attack two female hitch-hikers, could face spending the rest of his life behind bars.

Aaron Rhys McDonald, 38, who has admitted the brutal rape and murder, was on parole at the time of his crime spree and had been out of prison only six months.

Health assessors have been looking at whether he should be given an open-ended period of preventive detention when he is sentenced at the High Court in Christchurch this morning.

The body of Miss Farrall, 24, was found in the boot of her car at a Woolston supermarket on the morning of March 29 this year.

After the murder, the kitchen-hand from Otaki fled to the West Coast where he picked up two hitch-hikers, Michaela Brandl of Germany and Dutch-Japanese woman Niki Honda near Franz Josef.

Armed with a metal bar, he robbed them of their personal belongings and attacked them.

He pushed Ms Honda, of Dutch-Japanese origin, from his moving 4WD before stabbing Ms Brandl, a German, in the neck three times.

He pleaded guilty to charges of intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

A minor charge of operating a motor vehicle recklessly as he tried to evade police before being arrested after a five-hour stand-off, is also admitted.

McDonald was on parole at the time of the crime spree, a Parole Board decision shows.

He had been sentenced at Palmerston North District Court in May 2009 to five years and three months in custody for multiple crimes, including the manufacture of methamphetamine, burglary, theft, and arson.

A hearing at Rimutaka Prison last September was told McDonald was a self-confessed alcohol and methamphetamine user who smoked cannabis daily since he was 15 but his risk to the community over the remaining nine months of his sentence could be "adequately mitigated".

He told the board that he had accommodation available in Christchurch.

Special conditions attached to his parole, imposed until December this year, included that he attend a medium intensity relapse programme, undertake an alcohol and drug treatment, or counselling, programme, and to live at the nominated address.

He was on a 10pm to 6am curfew for the first three months of his release and was banned from drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs or synthetic cannabis.

Miss Farrall and her boyfriend Cory McKeown had met McDonald while in Christchurch and, out of pity, had asked him to stay at their Christchurch home while he got on his feet.

Corrections said that McDonald had met his parole conditions up to the point of his last reporting in to them on March 18 this year.

But a review of his management has been undertaken and it's expected Corrections will reveal its conclusions later today.

The public gallery will be packed today to bear witness to McDonald's sentencing.

The Farralls, however, have asked for privacy from the media.

An earlier statement told of their devastation that Miss Farrall's "caring nature appears to have been tragically taken advantage of".

- Kurt Bayer of APNZ

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