Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Man accused of Hastings murder unfit for trial

Douglas Apperley was found dead in his Townshend Street, Hastings home several days after he died. Photo / Warren Buckland
Douglas Apperley was found dead in his Townshend Street, Hastings home several days after he died. Photo / Warren Buckland

A 45-year-old man accused of the brutal murder of a Hastings man will be detained in a care facility after he was found mentally unfit to stand trial.

Douglas Bruce Apperley, 59, was found dead in his home in suburban St Leonard's last April 16.

Police said he was stabbed several times in the chest and suffered "terrible'' head injuries.

The man charged with his murder, whose name is suppressed, was found unfit to stand trial at a hearing in the High Court at Wellington today.

Justice Ronald Young said he was satisfied the evidence established the accused had likely killed Mr Apperley.

But he found the accused was mentally impaired under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act and was therefore unable to enter a plea or instruct counsel.

Justice Young referred to reports from several psychiatrists, including one who said the accused had longstanding and severe schizophrenia and further care would be unlikely to alter his ability to enter a plea.

He ordered the defendant be detained in care as a special patient.

Speaking outside court, defence lawyer Russell Fairbrother said it was the only appropriate outcome.

"The man is severely and chronically unwell. He's been seen by in excess of four psychiatrists who all agree it was the right outcome,'' he told APNZ.

"It means he gets expert treatment and if he gets well he may have to stand trial. It depends on his progress.''

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