30 Jun 2014

Woman 'wanted to kill neighbour'

7:54 pm on 30 June 2014

A mentally ill woman who escaped from Waikato Hospital's mental health unit told staff she wanted to kill her neighbour, a court has been told.

An inquest into the death of Diane White began on Monday. The 53-year-old was hit with a hammer in a frenzied attack at her Hamilton home in January 2010.

Two years later, Christine Morris was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life, with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years. She is a paranoid schizophrenic with a borderline personality disorder.

Morris had escaped from the hospital's Henry Bennett Centre on the day of the killing, not long after making threats against Mrs White, the inquest was told.

The doctor treating her told the Coroner on Monday that Morris became very agitated that day, saying she would rather kill and go behind bars than leave her two former neighbours untouched.

The doctor, who has name suppression, said Morris' manner changed abruptly when talking about her five-month-old baby who had recently been taken into the care of Child, Youth and Family.

Sergeant Murray Stapp told the Coroner that Morris escaped by climbing a two-metre-high fence at the centre and returned to her old house where she and Mrs White had an altercation.

"This resulted in Mrs White being struck multiple times on her head by Morris wielding a hammer. This caused fatal blunt force trauma about her head and body."

Mr Stapp said Morris believed that Mrs White was responsible for Child, Youth and Family taking her child.

The hospital notified police by fax that Morris was missing, but the communication took at least 40 minutes to arrive.