Suppression breach in attempted murder case
The editor of the New Zealand Herald has appeared before the High Court to explain why his paper broke a suppression order in the case of a schizophrenic man who attacked a couple in their home.
Jason Meradith Harvey was found not guilty by reason of insanity last week of attempted murder, assault with a weapon and aggravated burglary.
Details of the case, including Harvey's name and the names of his victims, were suppressed until this morning when a hearing was held to discuss the matter.
The New Zealand Herald, however, published a story this morning naming Harvey and featuring a picture of one of his victims.
Editor-in-chief Tim Murphy and chief reporter Stuart Dye appeared in court on Friday to answer what Justice Rebecca Ellis said was "no question...a breach of the order".
Family of the victims, who were also in court, said the breach had traumatised family members, especially their children who had had a hard time at school. Murphy apologised to the court and the victims saying Harvey's name was included by accident.
The breach was "inadvertent but mistaken".
Justice Ellis lifted Harvey's name suppression but ordered that the victims were not to be identified.
She said the inclusion of Harvey's name appeared to be a mistake but the use of a picture of the victim appeared to be at least a breach of the "spirit" of the order.
She invited the Crown to make submissions on what steps should be taken in terms of censure or punishment.
HARVEY FOUND NOT GUILTY
Harvey entered the couple's house and attacked them shortly after midnight on September 24, 2011.
He attacked the mother of the house with an iron bar then stabbed the father in the head before attacking him with the iron bar.
The father suffered severe injuries and blood loss but was able to escape the frenzied attack.
Harvey left the house and led police on a high-speed chase.
He tried to ram police vans and drove the wrong way down the northern motorway.
He was arrested after he crashed into an on-coming car but he was unable to be interviewed because he was in an "unfit and incoherent state".
An insanity inquiry held last week heard that two psychiatrists - one for the Crown and one for the defence - had decided that at the time Harvey was suffering from a "disease of the mind so significant and pervasive that he did not then know that what he was doing was morally wrong".
Dr Ian Goodwin said Harvey had a history of psychotic illness reaching back 23 years.
He had a history of delusions of persecution by police including becoming convinced police were trying to frame him for the murder of Marie Jamieson.
Jamieson was abducted off Karangahape Rd in 2001, her dead body dumped in West Auckland.
Joseph Reekers pleaded guilty to her murder in 2009.
Harvey developed his belief in 2003 and protested his innocence by hanging banners off a number of motorway bridges in Auckland.
Goodwin said Harvey also had a history of methamphetamine abuse and had been admitted to mental hospitals 24 times in the 10 years to September 2011.
At the time of the attack, Harvey thought police were plotting to kill him.
He was sleeping in his van with a machete to avoid police who he thought were bugging his phone.
Before the attack, he drove around town telling people police were going to murder him.
He also spray painted it on the road outside his house and made video tapes detailing the plot, which he hid in places around the city.
He became convinced the couple he attacked were involved in the police plot so he went round to confront them.
Harvey was released from his latest stint in mental health care on September 9, 2011.
He was assessed by a counsellor three days later following concerns raised by his family.
Just three days before the attack he was taken to Auckland police station where he admitted to drinking and taking methamphetamine.
He had a meeting with his drug and alcohol counsellor, where he repeated his persecution delusions, the day before the attack.
A slight query was raised when Harvey admitted to drinking two boxes of Cody's pre-mix bourbon and colas before the assault.
Drunkenness is not a legitimate excuse for crime and if he was simply drunk rather than insane, a defence of insanity would not be possible.
Justice Ellis ruled, however, that notwithstanding the role alcohol and methamphetamine played, "his delusional thinking was long-standing and pervasive".
"Moreover it clearly exists independently of any external agents and was equally clearly, in my view, at play on that night."
She found him not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered him detained indefinitely in a mental health institution as a special patient.
Special patients can only be released with consent of the Minister of Health or the Attorney General.