Raurimu killer back in custody

CLIO FRANCIS
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2011
anderson
Stephen Anderson: Killed six people in a cannabis-fuelled shooting rampage at his family's lodge at Raurimu in 1997.

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One of New Zealand's worst mass killers has been recalled to a psychiatric hospital, two years after being freed to live in Upper Hutt.

The son of one of Stephen Anderson's victims has said he should never have been freed and branded the ministry that signed off his release an "embarrassment".

Anderson, now 39, went on a cannabis-fuelled shooting rampage at his family's lodge at Raurimu in the central North Island on February 8, 1997. He killed six people, including his father.

At the time of the killings, he was under the care of Capital & Coast's community mental health team in Wellington after being diagnosed two years earlier as a paranoid schizophrenic. He had resisted taking his medication, was obsessed with firearms and used cannabis heavily before the killings.

When asked whether the reason for his recall last month was that he had been using legal cannabis substitute Kronic, his mother, Helen, said she was "not absolutely sure". "It's been very difficult."

The Health Ministry refused to say why he had been recalled. Anderson is classified as a special patient, who can be recalled at any time if certain mental health experts think it necessary in the interests of the safety of the patient or of the public.

Associate Health Minister Jonathan Coleman confirmed last night that he had signed the recall warrant after advice from Anderson's doctors and from the Health Ministry's director of mental health.

Anderson shot dead his father, Neville, 60, Anthony McCarty, 63, Stephen Hanson, 38, John Matthews, 28, Andrea Brander, 52, and Hendrick "Henk" Van de Wetering, 51. He also wounded four others. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity of six murders and four attempted murders and locked up in fulltime secure psychiatric care.

Anderson had been living in a flat in suburban Clouston Park in Upper Hutt since his release in 2009.

In May, he said he valued his freedom. "We are just trying to put what happened behind us and get on with what is left of the pieces ... put them back together.

"I spent a long time in hospital. Over that time I managed to get the help I needed," Anderson said.

"I recovered quite quickly and then had to find some way of dealing with what had happened ... that has been the go."

He was finding inner peace through daily meditation and studying Buddhist teachings, he said.

David Van de Wetering, son of Henk, said he did not know of Anderson's recall until told by The Dominion Post. "We don't get told anything, we don't know when he comes out, we don't know when he goes in."

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His family were still suffering, he said. "My family aren't living the happy life, they are still looking over their shoulder.

"I'd definitely say it's a good thing he's back inside. The ministry is an embarrassment to themselves and have let down the community they are supposed to be protecting. He should never have been let out. He murdered six people, shot 10. He's a sick individual."

Health Ministry acting director of mental health Susanna Every-Palmer said the approach taken by forensic services was that the best way to protect public safety, in the long term, was to rehabilitate special patients.

"Our goal is to treat and rehabilitate patients like Mr Anderson so that, over time, they are able to become fully participatory members of society."

Public safety was a very important consideration, she said. "There are a large number of checks and balances in the system. For example, we can and do recall special patients back to secure settings if there are concerns."

Mr Coleman said: "Public safety is always a paramount consideration, and the fact that Stephen Anderson has been

"I spent a long time in hospital. Over that time I managed to get the help I needed," Anderson said.

"I recovered quite quickly and then had to find some way of dealing with what had happened ... that has been the go."

He was finding inner peace through daily meditation and studying Buddhist teachings, he said.

David Van de Wetering, son of Henk, said he did not know of Anderson's recall until told by The Dominion Post. "We don't get told anything, we don't know when he comes out, we don't know when he goes in."

His family were still suffering, he said. "My family aren't living the happy life, they are still looking over their shoulder.

"I'd definitely say it's a good thing he's back inside. The ministry is an embarrassment to themselves and have let down the community they are supposed to be protecting. He should never have been let out. He murdered six people, shot 10. He's a sick individual."

Health Ministry acting director of mental health Susanna Every-Palmer said the approach taken by forensic services was that the best way to protect public safety, in the long term, was to rehabilitate special patients.

"Our goal is to treat and rehabilitate patients like Mr Anderson so that, over time, they are able to become fully participatory members of society."

Public safety was a very important consideration, she said. "There are a large number of checks and balances in the system. For example, we can and do recall special patients back to secure settings if there are concerns."

Mr Coleman said: "Public safety is always a paramount consideration, and the fact that Stephen Anderson has been recalled and is now in a secure facility shows the system and monitoring of patients has worked in this situation."

Disturbed past

February 8, 1997: Stephen Anderson goes on a shooting rampage at his family's lodge in Raurimu. He shoots 10 people, killing six, including his father. He is later found not guilty due to insanity.

Mid-2009: Anderson is released into the Upper Hutt community as a special patient. He is subject to strict conditions and is monitored by forensic health service professionals.

July 2010: Anderson writes an article for North and South magazine, speaking of the events that led to the tragedy and apologising publicly. He is paid several thousand dollars as a "freelance contributor".

May 2011: Anderson tells a reporter he values his freedom and is finding inner-peace through daily meditation.

June 2011: Anderson is recalled to a secure psychiatric hospital in Wellington. The Health Ministry refuses to say why.

SPECIAL PAITENTS

Special patients enter the mental health system via the courts.

They have usually been charged with serious offences.

There are more than 100 special patients in New Zealand.

All are treated and closely monitored.

Special patients are under the care of the forensic mental health service and usually under 24-hour accountable care.

Once the person is stable, further rehabilitation usually involves supervision within a hospital setting and later in the community.

When special patients breach their leave conditions they are recalled, treated, reassessed and the process of rehabilitation begins again.

They may also be recalled if the director of mental health services at a district health board decides it is necessary, for any reason, in the interests of the safety of the patient or of the public.

- The Dominion Post

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