Insanity hearing set in murder trial

A court hearing to consider a possible insanity finding has been set for a 24-year-old man accused of murdering a man at a Redwood house last November.

The hearing before Justice David Gendall was set for March 28 at a pre-trial callover before Justice Graham Panckhurst in the High Court at Christchurch today.

The man has been charged with the murder on November 4, when police were called to the house at 2am.

A suppression order means that the name of the man and the victim cannot be published at present.

The dead man and the 24-year-old were both found by the police at the house.

A large number of family members sat quietly in the public seating for today's appearance, at which the court was told a first report by a court-appointed psychologist had now been completed.

The man was remanded for that report in November and has been held at Hillmorton Hospital while it has been prepared.

Justice Panckhurst said the findings of the report looked "clear-cut" and he decided that no further court-appointed psychological report needed to be ordered.

Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton QC told the court a second psychological report had been commissioned by the defence and it would be available for the March 28 hearing.

That report will give an opinion on how the case ought to be disposed of, and Justice Panckhurst asked for the original report to be expanded to cover that issue as well.

In the meantime, the man will remain at Hillmorton Hospital where he continues to undergo treatment.

Prosecutor Chris Lange said the Crown had no objection to interim name suppression continuing until the hearing.

Eaton explained that there had been a steady improvement in behaviour since the man's arrest and there was concern that publicity could "negatively impact on treatment".

Justice Panckhurst remanded the man for the hearing which will consider whether there should be a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity - which will mean that no trial is required - and then consider how the case should be dealt with.

He continued the interim suppression order though he said it was unlikely that permanent suppression would be granted at the hearing.

The Press