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Murder accused under assessment

MICHAEL FOX AND VICTORIA ROBINSON
Last updated 16:50 28/06/2012
CRIME SCENE: A forensic team search the property in Balmoral Rd, Auckland, where a man was found dead.
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax Media

CRIME SCENE: A forensic team search the property in Balmoral Rd, Auckland, where a man was found dead.

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A 38-year-old man charged with the murder of a man in Balmoral on Tuesday night has been sent for mental health assessments and been granted interim name suppression.

The man appeared in Auckland District Court this afternoon, where Judge Grant Fraser ordered his name be suppressed so members of his family could be told about the murder charge.

Judge Fraser said the suppression is unlikely to be extended at the man's next court date. The man was remanded to the Mason Clinic - a psychiatric hospital where it will be assessed as to whether he is fit to stand trial.

A forensic court liaison nurse told the court she recommended the man be given 24-hour care by trained professionals, rather than be sent to prison where he could not be given round-the-clock assistance.

Dean Andrew Clark, 36, was found dead in his rented flat on Balmoral Rd yesterday.

A neighbour says she heard fighting and glass smashing in the Auckland home where he was allegedly killed and says she saw the accused acting strangely and talking to himself in the days before the death.

He is believed to be Clark's flatmate.

Police arrested him in Remuera at 10am yesterday after being called by a concerned relative of his.

Clark died late on Tuesday night or during the early hours of Wednesday morning in the unit he had recently been sharing with the accused, police said.  

The neighbour, who lives alone and did not wish to be named, said she was half-asleep around 3am yesterday when she heard a fight in the flat next door.

"I heard a physical fight and yelling and shouting and then I heard what sounded like breaking glass and then there was silence after that."

She still did not know exactly what had transpired but said police knocked on her door around 9am and had kicked in the flat's door and found a dead body, she said.

The woman said Clark, a slight man who she thought was a sickness beneficiary, had lived in the flat for around two years.

The accused had moved in around five days previously but was given notice by the landlord to leave.

The owner of the Balmoral property said he had never met the murder accused until the night Clark was killed.

He would not say why he had been at the property, or discuss any details leading up to the event.

But it's understood Clark had called him expressing concerns about his new tenant.

"Dean was a really nice guy, he'd be like your brother or a family member. He was a really nice guy and he didn't deserve this."

The landlord believed Clark had met the murder accused at a Balmoral Rd halfway house and had offered him a place to stay - without knowing he was a mental health patient.

"It's just a sad case of a mental patient being out on our streets and having nowhere to live," the landlord said.

"He can't get help. There's no permanent places where the mental patients can go."

The neighbour thought the accused had blamed Clark for the eviction.

She had seen the accused once or twice and said he was acting strangely.

The day before the killing she saw him lying down on the ground outside her kitchen window in the rain and cold and initially thought he was unconscious before she heard him talking to himself.

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"I heard him raving like a lunatic saying things like 'my head's about to explode, the world is going to end."

"It sounded like he was having a psychotic episode, basically and it was at the back of my mind, should I contact someone, who do I contact."

She now feels guilty she did not but is annoyed a man with such mental health issues was living next to her without her knowledge.

The woman thought he was a "random off the street" and did not know he was her neighbour.

He would also yell as he walked up and down the street.

The neighbour described Clark as "gentle-natured and really friendly".

"He had heaps of friends, there was always somebody knocking on his door."

Thought to be in his mid-30s, the woman said he had been a sickness beneficiary.

The death was "really starting to hit home," she said.

Police and ESR scientists are yet to complete a scene examination at the property and are today speaking with neighbours and associates of both men "to build background pictures of them and the circumstances around the tragedy".

An Auckland District Health Board spokeswoman said they were "aware of an incident yesterday involving a person known to our mental health services".

"Our thoughts are with all those involved," she said. "We will be undertaking an investigation into the circumstances and are assisting the police with their enquiries."

The man will next appear in court in mid-July.

- Auckland Now

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