Police defend 'adequate' bail monitoring of Christie Marceau's killer Akshay Chand

A senior police officer says the monitoring of the man who went on to kill North Shore teenager Christie Marceau while on bail was "robust".

And on "any reasonable assessment… comfortably falls within the category of 'adequate'."

Detective Superintendent David Lynch told the inquest into Christie's death that Akshay Chand was checked a "total of 23 times between October 6, 2011 and November 7, 2011. On each occasion he was complying with his bail conditions."

On November 7, Chand cornered Christie in her backyard and stabbed her repeatedly. She died in her mother's arms.

Supt Lynch said a defendant being checked three to five times a week with no problems may be subject to reduced bail checks.

He told the inquest the frequency of checking in Mr Chand's case was resource-intensive, and there was no reduction in frequency of the checks over the one-month period despite there being no breaches.

Chand's bail conditions included a 24-hour curfew, and he was only to leave the property in the care of his mother or aunt for medical or legal appointments.

The day Chand left his house to kill Christie, his mother had already left for work.

No national policy on bail monitoring

In 2011, the police did not have a national policy or practice relating to bail monitoring and responses.

Supt Lynch said given the "large number of people on bail, police need to prioritise who is checked and how often they are checked".

He said Chand "was on bail for serious charges and was therefore one of those prioritised for bail checking".

Under cross-examination, Supt Lynch said when it came to bail checks it was impractical to check whether a defendant was being properly supervised. It was only possible to check if that supervisor was at the bail address at the time the police made their checks.

As at January 2016, Ministry of Justice figures showed 7,519 people were on bail in the greater Auckland area.

Distance no obstacle?

Supt Lynch also said an extra 20km between Christie's home and her killer would have probably made no difference.

He told told the inquest he regarded Chand as a motivated offender.

He added he didn’t think bail conditions are "going to stop a motivated offender".

Chand was bailed to a house just five minutes' walk from Christie's family home. The Marceau family could see his house from their deck.

Supt Lynch said even with electronically monitored bail, the alarm for a breach goes to a private company and after that may be escalated to police.

He says even on "gold standard" electronically monitored bail a particularly motivated offender "can't be stopped".

Supt Lynch said bailing such an offender to another city "may make a difference".

Christie was Chand's 'best friend'

A court nurse says Christie's killer claimed the teenager he stabbed to death had been his best friend.

North Shore District Court forensic liaison nurse Ellen Wilson saw Chand when he was on charges of kidnapping and threatening to rape Christie , but before he killed her.

Ms Wilson said Chand "stated the victim was his best friend, but wasn't any more".

She said "he reported a lengthy period of depression and anxiety" that had probably lasted about five years.

They spoke the day after Chand had kidnapped Christie.  Chand told her he had taken an overdose of Centrum multivitamins that night.

Ms Wilson said when she asked why he'd done that, Chand said "the label on the bottle stated that an excessive amount of the tablets had a toxic effect".

He claimed to have taken 40 to 50 tablets and felt quite unwell. His sister called an ambulance for him.

Chand told the nurse it was "a spur of the moment" thing and he was worried about what would happen to him at court.

Ms Wilson said Chand denied suicidal thoughts.

In a report she wrote after seeing Chand, Wilson recommended if Chand was kept in custody that the prison medical and forensic teams be notified with an urgent referral.

If he was bailed then she recommended an appointment be made for him on September 14, 2011 as a condition of his bail.

Ms Wilson said Chand was called before the judge before she completed that report.

She was told by Chand's lawyer that he was being kept in custody, so the nurse notified by the prison by phone.

Under cross-examination, she conceded that her assessment of Chand on that day had been rushed and probably lasted 20 minutes.

Rushed assessment

Ms Wilson says she needed twice the time that she was given in order to do a proper assessment of Chand.

She saw in the police holding cells at the North Shore District Court the day after he kidnapped Christie in September 2011, and two months before he killed her.

Ms Wilson said she could have done an effective screening of Chand in 45 minutes but probably spent only about 25 minutes with him.

She told the coroner's inquest the urgency was because Chand was due to be called before the court at any minute. A police officer was waving at her outside of the cell to remind her of that.

Ms Wilson said she would have preferred to have more time with Chand.  He was called before the court before she had written up her report.

She updated her initial report on Chand after he was assessed by community mental health services on October 11,  2011.

She used the service's electronic database to confirm he had attended the appointment and to see what the outcome was.

Ms Wilson said there were "no ongoing risk issues elicited" at the appointment. At the assessment Chand had reported an "improvement in his mood" since starting antidepressants and denied suicidal and homicidal ideas.

Chand's mother was at the appointment and said his mood had improved.

Ms Wilson did not see Chand again personally before updating her report.  After completing the updated copy she sent it to the court, presiding judge and defence lawyer. But by that time, Christie was already dead. 

Psychiatrist had no reason to disbelieve Chand's assurances

A psychiatrist has told an inquest he had no reason to disbelieve killer Akshay Chand's assurances that Christie Marceau was safe from him.

Dr Ian Goodwin assessed Chand's fitness to stand trial on charges of kidnapping and threatening to rape Christie.

He interviewed Chand for about an hour and a half at Mount Eden prison several weeks before he went on to kill the 18-year-old while on bail.

Dr Goodwin said Chand showed signs of mild to moderate depressive illness but no psychotic or polar disorder.

He said Chand was "extremely remorseful and able to give specific assurances… about the safety of Ms Marceau."

Dr Goodwin said given Chand’s lack of previous violent offending there was "no reason to disbelieve his assurances at that time."

He said Chand claimed "I have learned I can't physically harm anyone."

Dr Goodwin told the inquest he had no idea his report would be relied on for bail purposes; it was intended only to determine Chand’s fitness to stand trial - a type of report that relates specifically to the client’s state of mind at the time of the assessment and not the alleged offending.

In his view Chand was fit to stand trial on the kidnap charges.