Killer Antonie Dixon dies in prison

PRISON DEATH: It has been reported that Antonie Dixon has died in Paremoremo Prison.
PRISON DEATH: It has been reported that Antonie Dixon has died in Paremoremo Prison.

Samurai sword attacker and convicted killer Antonie Dixon, who died in prison this morning, was seen by a psychiatrist just hours before his death.

Dixon died in Paremoremo Prison in the early morning. He was due in court this morning.

A prison source told NZPA Dixon had suffered head and neck injuries.

INSANITY PLEA: Antonie Dixon during his 2005 trial.
INSANITY PLEA: Antonie Dixon during his 2005 trial.

His lawyer Barry Hart told of his growing concern for Dixon’s state of mental health, particularly following an attack by Dixon on Mr Hart. Dixon had pulled a "makeshift weapon" on Mr Hart last month.

Mr Hart arrange for a psychiatrist from the Mason Clinic to assess him yesterday. The psychiatrist confirmed to Mr Hart at 5pm last night that Dixon was mentally unwell but believed that Paremoremo had the facilities to care for Dixon. 

The next call Mr Hart took was at 6am today, advising him Dixon was dead.

Mr Hart says the Corrections Department "stuffed up".

Mr Hart said his client had refused to take his medication and had been beaten up several times by inmates.

He believed his client should have been put into a psychiatric unit, not a prison cell, he told Newstalk ZB.

Dixon was due to appear for sentencing this morning, however arrangements had already been made to have sentencing adjourned until February 20 so his sister, who lives overseas, could attend.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Leanne Field said prison staff who discovered Dixon had tried to provide medical assistance but were unable to revive him.
"He was pronounced dead by ambulance staff when they arrived at the prison.

"The Department is now undertaking an initial investigation to determine what happened," she said.

Ms Field said the death would be investigated by the prison authorities.

A coroner's investigation, assisted by the police, would be conducted ahead of an inquest to determine the cause of death, she said.

Dixon, 40, attacked Simonne Butler and Renee Gunbie with a samurai sword in Pipiroa near Thames on January 22, 2003, and murdered James Te Aute in Auckland the same night. He was high on the drug P.

In 2005, Dixon was convicted of charges, including murder, kidnapping and using a firearm against a police officer.

His defence had been that he was insane when he attacked Butler and Gunbie before driving to Auckland where he shot dead Te Aute with 10 bullets in his back. He took a hostage before giving himself up to police after a standoff.

However, the insanity defence was was always challenged by police who called Dixon a "gold-plated psychopath". Prosecutors accepted Dixon had a severe personality disorder and suffered from paranoia but maintained he knew what he was doing when he committed the crimes while under the influence of methamphetamines.

In Pipiroa, Dixon's increasing paranoia had exploded into rage when he hacked at Gunbie and ex-girlfriend Butler with a samurai sword - slashing at them until their hands were severed. The chopping stopped only because the sword broke.

It took a team of surgeons 27 hours to delicately reattach Butler's hands but Gunbie's hand couldn't be saved and she's lucky to be alive.

The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions in 2007, ruling the judge had erred in the summing-up of the case. In August last year, after a second jury trial, Dixon was again found guilty on the eight charges he faced.

His death comes just weeks after another prison incident involving Dixon. The Sunday News reported that Dixon had pulled a "makeshift weapon" on his own lawyer - Barry Hart - during a meeting at Auckland Central Remand Prison on January 17.

"Staff supervising the meeting between the prisoner and his lawyer saw the prisoner get agitated, and attempt to remove what they believed to be a makeshift weapon from his shoe," a Corrections spokeswoman said at the time.

Mr Hart told the Sunday News that "[Dixon] has some major mental issues at the moment"."The issues have deteriorated," he said.

The drama was the second time Dixon was reported to be involved in an incident with a weapon inside prison. In December, 2007, Dixon used a fork to try to gouge out the eye of another prisoner, who required hospitalisation. 

Justice Hugh Williams said he had received a letter from Dixon saying he had dispensed with Mr Hart's services and queried whether a new lawyer needed to be appointed.

Mr Hart said Dixon had dispensed with his services on a number of occasions.

"Everytime he got unwell, he had trust issues."

He said the system had let Dixon down badly. When asked if his death was a stuff by corrections department, Mr Hart said "Well it has to be".

Dixon had been jailed at least 14 times and had almost 160 prior convictions - predominately for theft and burglary.

During the 2007 Appeal Court hearing, Hart said Dixon had suffered a horrendous upbringing. As a child he was tied to a clothesline, could only bark like a dog, and showed paranoid behaviour over several years.

- with NZPA