31 Oct 2014

Fence critical factor in death - coroner

1:39 pm on 31 October 2014

A coroner says the killing of a woman by a patient who absconded from a mental health facility in Hamilton by climbing a fence may have been prevented had the fence been more secure.

Diane White, who was 53, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer by Christine Morris on 19 January 2010.

Morris was convicted of murder and is serving a life sentence.

She had made threats against Mrs White just before she ran off, scaled a fence and headed to Mrs White's home.

She had just been interviewed by a psychiatrist who was in the process of having her formally committed.

The coroner said Morris should have been accompanied by staff after the interview and not allowed to leave, even though at the time she was a voluntary patient.

Peter Ryan said the fact the fence could be climbed was a critical factor in a complex matrix of circumstances surrounding Mrs White's death.

He said a new wall around the ward was more robust but could still be climbed.

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