Dixon thought guards would kill him
A dehydrated, agitated, paranoid, and sleep-disturbed Antonie Dixon believed prison guards were going to kill him the day he strangled himself to death in his cell.
The samurai-sword killer also had a severe infection from lacerations on his wrists caused by the cuffs on a "tie down" bed where he had been restrained after throwing himself at jail cell walls and attempting a previous strangulation.
Prison psychiatrist Krishna Pillai told the inquest into Dixon's death yesterday that he had seen Dixon the day he died and believed the prisoner should be admitted to a specialist forensic clinic - but given his history of lying and manipulation did not immediately recommend he go there.
Dixon died in Auckland maximum security prison Paremoremo in 2009, a day before he was to be re-sentenced for a drug-fuelled crime spree where he maimed two women with a samurai sword, murdered James Te Aute and held another man hostage.
Police told the court yesterday that their investigation had concluded that Dixon strangled himself with a strip of cloth torn from an anti-suicide blanket in an at-risk cell on February 4, 2009.
There were traces of acetate in his blood, suggesting he had been starving himself. Low levels of methamphetamine were also detected.
Police believed Dixon had thrown himself at the wall because there was blood smeared around the cell and across the prisoner's face.
An on-duty guard had heard a thump just moments before he sighted Dixon standing with the self-made cord around his neck.
Detective Sergeant Richard Armstrong said police had to go on witness statements because while there was a camera in the inmate's prison cell, no CCTV footage was available because the lens had been covered with wet toilet paper.
The guard, whose name is suppressed, told the court he did not unblock the camera because he needed four guards present to go into Dixon's room, making it unfeasible.
He said after he heard the thump he ran to get help, but, again, given Dixon's security status he could not enter the cell until seven minutes later when three other officers arrived. The guards, a nurse and later, ambulance officers, attempted CPR but Dixon was already dead.
A medical report said death by strangulation would occur within five-six minutes.
Pillai gave the court insight into Dixon's mental health - with the coroner keen to know if Dixon was well enough to know the intent of his behaviour.
The psychiatrist said the question was extremely difficult to argue because Dixon was such a controversial patient. He had been ruled sane enough to stand trial at court but had many differing diagnoses.
Pillai said his view - gleaned over six years of treating Dixon - was that he had a severe personality disorder, was narcissistic, paranoid and had an antisocial personality. He was intermittently psychotic - a trait brought on by stress - and had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This was caused by child sexual abuse, an incident leading to a prosecution.
He also abused methamphetamine. His condition was deteriorating, Pillai said, and was possibly on the cusp of a psychotic episode when he died. However, he was also manipulative and had lied about his symptoms in the past.
When Pillai observed him on February 3, he was dehydrated, with cracked lips and had an infection. He hadn't been sleeping or eating. The prison had considered sending him to hospital for intravenous fluids, but given security considerations, decided against it.
Pillai said those same considerations were part of the reason he didn't send Dixon straight to the Mason Clinic, a specialist psychiatric clinic.
There were other factors that stopped him - the clinic was always full, Dixon was extremely high-profile and controversial and he believed he would be safe, at least temporarily, in an at-risk cell.
On February 4, Dixon told Pillai he believed he was at risk from the guards and others. He also spoke of other delusions and spoke of "excessive" religious beliefs.
Pillai decided he wanted to discuss the referral with a clinical team before making a final decision and put the assessment off until after sentencing the next day.
The assessment never happened because Dixon was dead six hours later.
The inquest continues today.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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