Daughter accused of mother's murder unfit for trial

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 12:51 05/09/2012

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An Auckland woman accused of murdering her mother has been deemed unfit to stand trial.

Serene Rose Butland, 27, is charged with stabbing her mother Susan Frances Murphy to death on March 26, 2010.

Butland, who has previously had name suppression, maintains her mother was killed by a masked intruder who broke into their Remuera Rd flat and stabbed Murphy in the chest.

Today in the High Court at Auckland, Justice Kit Toogood ruled that Butland was unfit to stand trial and declared her a special patient under the Mental Health Act.

The judge said Butland was resistant to anti-psychotic medication and her mental state was marked by an "extreme denial of her illness".

Justice Toogood agreed with psychological reports that recommended a "prolonged period" of continued detention for treatment.

Outside court, crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins said the ruling did not equate to an acquittal by reason of insanity as it did not speak to Butland's mental state at the time of the alleged murder.

The case was still open and Butland would face trial if she became well enough in the future.

At a depositions hearing in November 2010, a neighbour said he found Murphy outside his door the night of the stabbing.

"I noticed a lady was on her knees - she was hunched - it looked like she had stomach pains or something. Then she said 'help, I've been stabbed by (the accused), help'."

He dragged her inside his apartment and called emergency services while her blood started to pool on the floor and she lost consciousness, he said.

Efforts to resuscitate her failed.

Detective Daniel Egen told the hearing there was no evidence of forced entry.

Egen said he found a bloody knife behind the microwave containing traces of Murphy's and Butland's DNA.

At the time Perkins said there was a history of violence between the two women and witnesses would testify to this.

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