16 May 2024

Man who killed Auckland student Tom Coombes in 'vicious' attack ordered detained in psychiatric facility

2:59 pm on 16 May 2024
Tom Coombes

Tom Coombes was killed on a Mt Albert walkway in 2022. Photo: Supplied

The man who killed Auckland student Tom Coombes in a "vicious and frenzied" knife attack will be detained in a psychiatric facility.

Christian Eteuati, 24, stabbed Coombes 42 times near a Mt Albert walkway in May 2022, while in a psychotic state.

He was later acquitted of any criminal responsibility for Coombes killing, on the grounds of insanity.

In a judgement released by Justice Ian Gault on Thursday, he noted Eteuati had been staying at Auckland's Mason Clinic since then.

The day of the attack

On 24 May, 2022, Coombes was walking home listening to music, when he was confronted by Eteuati near the Roy Clements Treeway in Mt Albert.

A judge has ordered Christian Eteuati detained indefinitely. Photo:

Justice Gault said this was when Eteuati unleashed a "vicious, frenzied and unprovoked attack" on Coombes with a knife.

Coombes was stabbed 42 times, with one of the stabs penetrating his skull and entering his brain.

He died at the scene, while Eteuati returned to his nearby home.

At home, Eteuati showed his younger brother the knife and said the blood that he was covered in was "a person's blood, human blood".

Police found Eteuati four days later, hiding in a wastewater tunnel nearby.

Coombes remembered as a 'young man who followed his dreams'

Tom Coombes

Tom Coombes had been studying photography when he was killed Photo: SUPPLIED

Family and friends of Coombes earlier released a statement and stated he was known for his kindness, compassion and humour.

A celebration of his life was held at Wainamu, Te Henga (Bethells Beach), where 700 people gathered to mourn him.

"Tom was a young man who followed his dreams, and we want his life to inspire other young people to do the same," said Rowena Coombes, Tom's mother.

His friends described him as being at his most happy in the last year he was alive, as he had met the love of his life.

'High risk of violence'

Psychiatrist evaluations of Eteuati, found he had treatment-resistant schizophrenia and a severe antisocial personality disorder along with substance abuse issues.

It was reported he would be at high risk of committing further crimes if in the community if he did not get treatment for his mental illness.

"Dr Pillai considered that your offending is of the most serious nature, and that you have a high propensity for violent offending based on mental illness, antisocial personality disorder, and deviant interests, that you need consistent and long-term specialist oversight," Justice Gault said.

"You need to be under the long-term oversight of specialist mental health services with comprehensive attention to your care needs."

Justice Gault ordered Eteuati be detained at Auckland's Mason Clinic as a special patient indefinitely.

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