28 Apr 2023

Christchurch eye surgeon jailed for attempted murder of former landlord

6:26 pm on 28 April 2023
Doctor Ian William Dallison has been sentenced in the High Court after previously pleading guilty to the attempted murder of Alberto Ceccerelli.

Ian William Dallison. Photo: The Press

"He totally lost the plot."

This is how the actions of a Christchurch eye surgeon were described in the High Court on Friday morning by the defence as he was sentenced for the attempted murder of his former business landlord.

Ian William Dallison was sentenced to six years and 10 months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to several charges, including attempted murder, wounding with intent and three charges of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Crown prosecutor Claire Hislop read victim impact statements on behalf of Alberto Ceccarelli and his wife Antje Schmidt, who recounted the horror of having their home invaded by an armed Dallison on 4 August, 2022.

"Our security and our home have been severely violated."

Dallison entered Ceccareli's Lyttleton home at about 7.40pm that night while he and Schmidt were eating dinner.

The court heard how Dallison fired a Ruger semi-automatic pistol, the bullet narrowly missing Ceccerelli's head, lodging itself in the doorframe over his right shoulder.

Both Ceccarelli and Schmidt then rushed Dallison, sparking a violent scuffle.

According to Ceccarelli's victim impact statement, he is still feeling the effects of the fracas where Dallison gouged his eye.

"Previously I had no issues reading brief things, like an email for instance, but now I can only read a few lines at a time and have to stop.

"When I'm working in the day, the daylight is too bright and it offends my sight so I have to block the sunlight out by having my blinds pulled down.

"I still suffer daily with headaches, which I have to use Panadol."

Ceccarelli said he felt "anxious" and admitted it was difficult to think about the future, in relation to the eventual release of Dallison.

Dallison also pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to injure Schmidt, after earlier admitting three firearms charges.

Schmidt was drawn into the attack and struck several times on the back of the head by the butt of Dallison's gun.

"I have difficulties falling and staying asleep due to the pain of my head injuries and anxiety. It is agony to put my head down on a pillow to sleep.

"I have difficulty of concentration, feeling constantly distressed and on edge, feeling lightheaded and nauseous, constant headaches. I become very jumpy, tense and jittery."

Schmidt's statement also said she had compensated her anxiety with food, and put on a lot of weight as a result.

She said her husband is also contemplating leaving the country due to the attack.

The court heard Dallison was a commercial tenant of Ceccarelli, the former owing the latter's trust about $250,000 in unpaid rent and expenses.

Defence lawyer Paul Borich conceded Dallison worked himself into a state on the day of the attack and behaved "irrationally" after being declared bankrupt hours earlier.

"His behaviour on this day was extreme - he did not look to others for help, nor did he take what advice had been given.

"Being bankrupt was the final straw and he completely and totally lost the plot."

Justice Andru Isac however told the court there was a high degree of premeditation and his actions were "inexplicable".

He said Dallison wrongly blamed Ceccarelli for his own financial woes and had established a pattern of not dealing with civil disputes reasonably,

"You don't take kindly to anyone with whom you have a financial dispute, be it former spouses, family or business partners.

"In such situations you have said to become arrogant, irrational, angry and uncompromising, some might describe such behaviour as entitled."

Isac said unlike many defendants who appear in front of the court, Dallison had lived "a privileged life".

He also pointed to other factors such as the Canterbury earthquakes and diminishing demand for laser treatment resulted in falling profitability of Dallison's practice.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs