17 Nov 2018

Victim of crime committed by man declared insane: 'I have very few rights'

5:24 pm on 17 November 2018

A Nelson woman is petitioning Parliament to give victims of violence carried out by those declared insane, the same rights as other victims of crime.

Stock photo illustrating domestic violence.

Photo: 123RF

Wendy Hamer was working as a primary care liaison nurse in 2009 when she was attacked during a respite care visit.

The man who she was checking up on beat and stabbed her, before pouring boiling water on her, resulting in nerve damage, fractures and burns.

"He beat me to a pulp, in effect."

He was then declared insane.

In October, he was transferred back to the town where she lives and the hospital she is still connected to, without warning.

Ms Hamer said she had no legal right to know he would be moving back into the community.

"As a victim of a crime committed by someone who is excused of the crime by reason of insanity, I have very few rights."

Ms Hamer said she is allowed to know when his first unescorted leave from hospital is, if he is absent without leave granted or if he has a change of legal status.

That means, she doesn't have to be told if he is on escorted leave, which risks her bumping into him.

"The petition is to point out the anomalies in the system."

Ms Hamer said she was doing well, until she heard he was back in the community.

"If he was under parole board with the justice system, I could say, 'this is where I live' and I don't want him anywhere near there.

"We are not even consulted, we are non-persons in this."

There needs to be equity for victims of violence so they and their families don't suffer further harm.

Ms Hamer said she has tried contacting Andrew Little and other ministers but has been met with generic responses.

"I expect better from this government, I really do."

National Party MP Nick Smith is working with Ms Hamer to get the petition going.

Ms Hamer wanted to acknowledge other victims rights advocates Graeme Moyle and Ruth Money.

"Their fight has been going on far longer than this, and I owe everything to them."

The petition will be handed to Parliament early next year.

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