Christie Marceau's family 'devastated' after killer granted supervised leave from ward
Christie Marceau's killer is being allowed to leave the secure mental health clinic where he is being housed, just six years after his deadly attack.
Grieving parents Brian and Tracey Marceau were unaware Akshay Chand had been granted leave until Stuff told them this week. He has been seen at an Auckland public library, McDonald's and Countdown, locals say.
The Waitemata District Health Board subsequently confirmed to the family's advocate that Chand was allowed escorted outings.
The Marceaus said they were worried about the threat he may pose to their family in Auckland. "It is extremely concerning, we are absolutely devastated," Tracey Marceau said.
They are calling for a law change so victims' families are better notified when offenders are granted leave.
"It's all I keep thinking about," Tracey Marceau said. "I have had horrendous nightmares. As much as I hope we are safe, it is pretty frightening."
Chand stabbed 18-year-old Christie to death in 2011 at her North Shore home while on bail for a previous attack on her. She died in her mother's arms while Chand calmly waited for police.
He was found not guilty of her murder by reason of insanity after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was placed in the care of Waitemata DHB's Mason Clinic as a special patient.
The Marceaus, who now live abroad, were assured if Chand was ever granted leave from the clinic they would be notified. However, a loophole in the Victims' Rights Act means legally the DHB only have to notify victims when the leave is unescorted.
"After everything we have been put through this is another kick in the face," Marceau said. "He is out there and people need to be extremely, extremely vigilant. I do believe he is extremely dangerous."
Stuff photos believed to be of Chand show him using a computer at the Point Chevalier library next to members of the public. It is unclear how long he has been allowed out on leave, or the conditions he has to adhere to.
Dr Krishna Pillai, acting clinical director at the Mason Clinic, said any form of leave required the approval of the Ministry of Health and patients were escorted by "qualified staff".
Pillai declined to answer questions about the details of Chand's leave, and said staff could not inform families of escorted leave due to patient privacy.
"In circumstances where escorted leave is approved, the Mason Clinic cannot contact victims and their families as this is outside the Victims' Rights Act, " he said.
Victims' advocate Ruth Money said Pillai was making excuses and hiding behind the act.
"All we are wanting is a notification he is out. I don't understand how that is an invasion of his privacy. What would have happened if he had bumped into the family as happened in another case in 2015?"
Labour's justice spokesperson Andrew Little agreed the act needed to be updated, saying victims had the right to know if a patient was granted any form of leave, just as victims of convicted offenders are.
"Victims are entitled to know every step of the way about what is happening to the perpetrator of the crime.
"I think at the very least the director of mental health is going to have to make amends, at the very least an apology for their systems not being up to the mark."
But Minister of Justice Amy Adams shied away from committing to a law change.
"There can be any number of reasons why a person might be granted escorted leave. It could be for something as routine as a dental check up."
The Marceaus said they would continue to fight until the law change is made.
- Sunday Star Times