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A young mother was stabbed to death by her ex-partner who had been released on bail - despite police opposition - after an earlier incident in which he threatened to kill her.
New Zealand Herald inquiries revealed Inayat Kawthar, 24, was killed 10 days after a community magistrate bailed 27-year-old Ramintesh Avinash with conditions that he was not allowed to go near her or contact her.
Miss Kawthar's death in Auckland last Friday comes amid a campaign to strengthen bail laws and follows the death of Christie Marceau, in similar circumstances, in 2011. Christie's mother, Tracey Marceau, said last night the family were "truly devastated" by Miss Kawthar's death, which occurred on "the very week of Christie's memorial".
Last night, a spokeswoman for the district court said an investigation into the community magistrate's decision to release Avinash on October 30 was under way.
"It is a tragedy whenever a person dies in circumstances where the matter is before the courts. In these cases all aspects are reviewed and appropriate action is taken," said Sonja de Friez, director of Community Engagement District Courts.
Police say Avinash went to Miss Kawthar's Great South Rd, Manurewa flat on Friday and stabbed her repeatedly in the chest while her 15-month-old child was home. She died in hospital later that day.
Avinash was found dead under a rail bridge in Manurewa that afternoon. His death is not suspicious.
The Herald has learned that Avinash was arrested on October 29 after an altercation in Miss Kawthar's home and he appeared in the Manukau District Court the next day before a community magistrate on charges of threatening to kill and assault with a weapon.
During that incident, Avinash harmed himself with a knife and Miss Kawthar received a small wound to her head.
It is understood the pair had been together only four or five months when the court ordered them to be apart. Avinash may have been in New Zealand for only a year.
Police opposed Avinash being freed on bail during the hearing, but the community magistrate disagreed and he was bailed to live at a Blockhouse Bay address. He was forbidden from contacting Miss Kawthar.
It is understood police tried to convince Miss Kawthar to move into a refuge. She told officers she would be all right and would rely on the support of family. Police who visited her to carry out welfare checks are understood to be devastated.
Detective Inspector Dave Lynch, of Counties Manukau police, said the two deaths had been referred to the Coroner.
"The Chief Coroner has authorised police to confirm that the matter is being dealt with as a murder-suicide, Young mother killed by ex-partner given bail however police will not make any further comment on circumstances leading up to the deaths as they will be subject to inquest findings," Mr Lynch said.
When police arrived at Miss Kawthar's flat on Friday morning they found her critically injured with multiple stab wounds.
Miss Kawthar's child, from her previous relationship, was taken into Child Youth and Family custody.
Her family have asked for privacy. "This is a difficult time for us and we are going through a private and holy grieving process. We are asking that the media respect this process and our privacy at this difficult time," the family said in a statement.
They would speak about what happened, but not immediately.
"We will appoint a family spokesperson and when the time is right and the family is comfortable we will make an approach."
Possible changes to bail laws being considered by Parliament include making a person on a murder charge or repeat violence, drugs or sex charges convince a judge the community would be safe if they were released, as opposed to current law where the Crown must show why defendants should be locked up.
The campaigners behind Christie's Law - set up in memory of Aucklander Christie Marceau, who was killed by Akshay Chand while he was on bail for assaulting and kidnapping her - want bail laws strengthened further.
Christie's Law chairman Ruth Money said: "Sadly, this is yet another example of why the select committee's weak recommendations do not go far enough. As in many cases including this and Christie's, someone has threatened a member of the community and [a court] has ignored that person's threat and the police's opposition to bail. How many lives need to be lost before common sense is applied and bail for these offenders is denied?"