Auckland's North Shore restaurant axe attacker acquitted on grounds of insanity

A photo of the scene in June where the man attacked multiple people with an axe.
A photo of the scene in June where the man attacked multiple people with an axe. Photo credit: Newshub

Story by RNZ

The man who used an axe to attack people at Chinese restaurants on Auckland's North Shore has been acquitted on all charges due to insanity.

Appearing in front of Judge Stephen Bonnar KC in the Auckland District Court today, the 25-year-old man, who has name suppression, accepted he did attack people that day.

But Judge Bonnar KC found him insane at the time of the offending so he was not legally responsible for his actions.

Six people were injured on the evening of 19 June, 2023 when the man entered Maya Hotpot on Corinthian Drive in Albany with a metal pole and a log splitting axe.

The court has heard the man, who arrived in New Zealand from China at the end of March 2023, struck three diners in the restaurant multiple times with the blunt side of the axe, one on the head and two others on the hand and forearm as they raised their arms in self defence.

The man then went to Yue's Dumpling Kitchen and struck a fourth victim on the head, knocking him unconscious, then going after a fifth person who was hit on the arm while trying to protect himself.

Still wielding the axe, the man went across the carpark to Zhangliang Malatang and struck a sixth person on the head so hard his head fell into the bowl of food he was eating. This victim continued to be attacked but managed to grab the axe before falling to the ground, maintaining his grip.

He managed to stand and leave the restaurant with the offender, each holding an end of the axe until police arrived and made the arrest.

The victims were left with injuries ranging from bruising and cuts to head wounds requiring stitches and one needed emergency surgery to remove a portion of his skull.

The judge outlined his reasons for acquitting the man on the charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

He referred to a psychiatric report by Dr Ng on the man that said he had "a lengthy history of mental illness" and had been previously diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.

"On the day of offending you [the offender] reported having hallucinations, that someone was touching you and punching you and wanted to kill you with a knife. You also believed people were attacking you while you were seated in your car."

Another report by Dr Skipworth said the offender "went to the restaurant because after he had been 'attacked' he thought the people in the restaurant had the same faces as those that attacked him".

Judge Bonnar said he was satisfied that at the time of the offending the man's mental state was "not based in reality and that you were suffering strongly from delusional beliefs".

He said the man was incapable of knowing his actions were morally wrong.

The offender has been remanded in custody until a bed at the Mason Clinic becomes available.