Hospital probe into violent attack

A probe will be carried out into how a mental health outpatient was able to stab a young mum to death and slash her throat in front of her daughter, hospital officials said today.

Market gardener Paul Gottermeyer can be named for the first time today after losing name suppression when he was sentenced in the High Court at Christchurch to life imprisonment.

The 29-year old from Kaiapoi was on medication and an outpatient at Hillmorton psychiatric hospital when he carried out what Justice John Fogarty described as a "horrible attack of the utmost gravity".

The little girl saw Gottermeyer enter her Christchurch family home on July 11 and stab her mum to death before slashing her throat.

She told police: "Mummy did bleed everywhere ... and mummy scream."

The woman and her daughter retain name suppression.

The court earlier heard how Gottermeyer has been suffering from a significant depressive illness.

Justice Fogarty jailed Gottermeyer for life today, but adjourned the case until February 28 for a psychiatrist's report under section 104 of the Criminal Procedures (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act to be prepared to establish his mental state of mind at the time of the killing.

He will then determine the length of the minimum non-parole period.

The judge asked for the report to include notes on why Gottermeyer 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".

The Canterbury District Health Board, which has responsibility for Hillmorton, said an investigation would be carried out.

The health board refused to speak about Gottermeyer's case but said that "whenever a serious unexpected event" happens involving a patient, a detailed review would be carried out "to see if there were any aspects of the treatment, care or systems that could be improved".

A spokeswoman said the case would be reported in the Health Quality and Safety Commission's annual report on serious and sentinel events and include a summary of any recommendations made.

One case of a mental health outpatient who had been charged with a homicide was included in the annual sentinel events report issued yesterday.

It reported that a 'root cause analysis' was currently underway and a report was awaited.

The CDHB refused to say if that was the Gottermeyer case.

About 50 family members and friends of the victim filled the court today to see Gottermeyer sentenced and tell him how the crime had affected the family.

The woman's father asked the killer why he had taken his "little princess".

"Life will never be the same," he said. "I feel angry and betrayed."

Other family members say the young girl, who was 3 at the time of the attack, suffers night terrors and relives the ordeal.

The woman's brother told Gottermeyer the impact has been "sad and sickening".

The court heard how he left home at 7am on July 11 with a large kitchen knife and drove to the woman's house.

He was let inside where a heated argument developed in the kitchen.

Gottermeyer knocked her to the ground, and stabbed her repeatedly 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.

After showering and washing his clothes, he dumped the murder weapon which was never recovered.

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.

The woman was found lying face down in the kitchen, and police were called.

The killer was found driving on Marshlands Rd at 12.25pm.

Gottermeyer admitted the attack, and told officers: "I'm not a very nice person."


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