Judge revealed as partner of surgeon jailed for attempted murder

Ian Dallison at his sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch for attempted murder. Photo:...
Ian Dallison at his sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch for attempted murder. Photo: John Kirk-Anderson / Pool
A Christchurch eye surgeon who attempted to murder his former business landlord was in an intimate relationship with District Court Judge Jane Farish.

After being declared bankrupt on 4 August, 2022, prominent doctor Ian Dallison stormed into the Lyttleton home of Alberto Ceccarelli and attempted to shoot him while he was eating dinner with his wife, Antje Schmidt.

Dallison was jailed for almost seven years.

The almost two-year-long legal battle to keep Farish's name secret ended on Tuesday when the Supreme Court issued its decision suppressing some evidence and submissions within the judgement, but not her name nor her relationship with Dallison.

Farish was Dallison's girlfriend at the time of his attack on Ceccarelli and Schmidt.

Dallison was armed with nine guns and 167 rounds of ammunition when he drove to the couple's home in St Davids Street, according to the police summary of facts.

He had been declared bankrupt in proceedings brought by Ceccarelli, to whom he owed a large amount of money for failing to pay the rent at his commercial building.

He fired a Ruger semi-automatic pistol at Ceccarelli, with the bullet narrowly missing the businessman's head, lodging itself in the doorframe over his right shoulder.

Ceccarelli and Schmidt then rushed Dallison, sparking a violent scuffle, during which Dallison gouged Ceccarelli's eye.

The Supreme Court said it was accepted Farish knew nothing of Dallison's plans and had no involvement in the offending.

She knew Dallison for years before beginning a romantic relationship with him in 2012. They maintained separate homes throughout the relationship and she had only stayed at his house once in the year before his rampage.

The Supreme Court's judgement said: "The public interest in Dallison's offending extends to the fact that his girlfriend knows the victims and took a call from one of them in the immediate aftermath of the offending, and the fact that she is a judge.

"It is weaker than the public interest in his own behaviour because she is not implicated in his offending, but it is information that ordinarily would be made public unless that would cause her, as a connected person, undue hardship.

"It is to be made public in this case. Her name and occupation are now not suppressed.

"The appellant's name and her intimate relationship with Dallison are information in which the public has an interest. So is her connection to the victims. But, as we will explain, that information is or will be in the public domain.

"The appellant did not seek to have it suppressed after Dallison was charged. She intervened only after the Crown disclosed in the Court of Appeal other information that she had given to the police. That information is not connected to his offending. There is no reason to suppose it would have been led in evidence had Dallison stood trial instead of pleading guilty. None of it is necessary to public understanding of the courts' handling of Dallison's case.

"We also find that the information posing the greatest risk to personal safety is on the court record only because the appellant disclosed it to explain the nature of the risk that she faces. That information also has no connection to Dallison's offending."

The details of that information were suppressed and redacted from the court's judgement.

The Supreme Court ruled the Court of Appeal had erred in not suppressing that information, stating: "We have no doubt that the threshold - a real and appreciable risk to personal safety - has been crossed. The risk to personal safety is both immediate and serious."