Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Terrifying last moments at hands of insane killer

Early on November 7 last year, Christie Marceau was killed at home in a brutal attack. Until now, suppression orders have prevented the Herald from telling her story. Today, we can reveal how and why she died

Christie Marceau. Photo / Supplied
Christie Marceau. Photo / Supplied

Christie Marceau woke up to her mother screaming. She leaped out of bed and ran towards the piercing sound. Moments later, the teen was dead.

Heavy suppression orders have prevented the Herald from publishing the details of Christie's brutal death on November 7 last year.

But today, Christie's story can finally be told.

Akshay Anand Chand was found not guilty in the High Court at Auckland yesterday of murdering Christie by reason of insanity. But Justice Helen Winkelmann acknowledged that Chand did kill Christie after planning his attack for several months.

Christie's last moments were full of terror and violence - and all in her own home.

It was 7am when Chand rang the Marceaus' doorbell. Christie was asleep in her downstairs bedroom, and her mother, Tracey, was in the kitchen getting ready for work.

Tracey thought nothing of the early visitor because Christie was a fan of online shopping and often had couriers coming to the house early.

Christie's ordeal had begun two months earlier when Chand kidnapped her. He lured her to his house by saying he was going to kill himself, and when he got her there he threatened to "knife" her if she disobeyed him or screamed.

He made her strip to her underwear and forced her to sit, terrified and crying, for 35 minutes while he talked about his personal problems.

He told her he had been "visited" by the devil and was "fighting a losing battle". He said he was no longer the person he had been because the devil had taken him over.

Yesterday, Crown Solicitor Simon Moore, SC, said Chand and Christie knew each other, they worked together, but were not friends. Christie was known for looking after people who were "marginalised socially", and Chand was drawn to her because of her kind nature.

After 35 minutes he let a terrified Christie go. She reported the incident to police and Chand was arrested when they found him in North Shore Hospital following an overdose attempt. He appeared in court the next day and was remanded in custody, where he began plotting to kill Christie.

"He later told police it was here [on remand at Mt Eden Prison] where he hatched his plan to kill Christie. He realised that in order to achieve this, he obviously needed to be released from custody," Mr Moore told the court.

Chand penned a letter to the court to assist him in getting bail. Mr Moore said the letter was simply a "purposeful act of subterfuge which would provide him with the opportunity to carry out his plan". "He purported to experience deep remorse and a desire on his part to make amends."

Despite pleas from Christie, her family, and police, Chand was bailed to a house just 300 metres away on October 5. His mother and sister, terrified he would harm someone while on bail, hid all of the kitchen knives before he came home.

"He perfected his plan," Mr Moore said. "Despite his mother's and sister's efforts he found a kitchen knife and placed it in a carry bag with a hammer. He rightly suspected that the Marceau family would be on guard and vigilant after his release. He also assumed quite naturally they would become less security conscious."

Chand had woken at 6.30am and decided he would kill Christie. He got dressed and walked with the bag to the Marceau house.

When Mrs Marceau answered the door, he pulled out the knife. She screamed and Chand pushed past her into the house. He asked her who was home and she tried to "bluff" him, saying her husband, Brian, was in another room.

Seconds later Christie appeared at the top of the stairs that led to her bedroom. She saw Chand and also started to scream.

He rushed at her and kicked her hard in the stomach, causing her to tumble backwards down the stairs. She managed to get up and scrambled out of the back door. Chand chased her and Mrs Marceau ran to call 111. Christie ran out on to the back deck and was desperately trying to unlatch the gate when Chand got to her.

He stabbed her in the head, rendering her defenceless. He continued to stab her in the head, neck, and torso. The police summary of facts stated Chand stabbed Christie between five and 10 times in a "frenzied" attack.

The knife bent 90 degrees but Chand kept trying to stab her. He stopped only when he realised the knife was unusable.

Mr Moore said Mrs Marceau emerged from the house seconds later. "Tracey didn't witness the attack, though she was present for the immediate aftermath. She found her daughter lying on the deck, bleeding but still breathing. She died in her mother's arms. The police arrived moments later."

When officers converged on the house, Chand was standing just metres away from Christie, still holding the knife.

Witnesses said that when he realised Christie was dead, he smiled. They said "he was smiling with a sick grin as if he'd achieved his purpose".

One officer asked why Chand was at the house. He replied: "For reprisal."

A second officer noticed Chand's hands were shaking and asked why that was. His reply: "It's not easy to kill someone." He then asked if he could listen to his iPod while they decided what to do.

Chand was charged with murdering Christie later that day. He was devoid of emotion and told officers he was a "callous fiend. That's just who I am. I murdered her".

He appeared in North Shore District Court the next day. He did not apply for bail, but police had prepared an opposition form in the event that he tried. The details on that form were also suppressed. But now the Herald can publish the chilling information police gave to the court.

"The defendant has stated that he feels absolutely no remorse for the victim and she deserved to die 'because she let me down'. When he was previously bailed in October he took this opportunity to carefully plan and execute the murder of the victim," police said.

"The victim involved in the initial charges is now dead at the hands of the defendant ... [Chand] decided to kill the victim over a month ago when he was sent to prison. He has organised to get bail with the sole purpose of getting out to kill the victim. He called a letter he wrote to the court judge 'lies' and 'sappy', and said he was clearly a walking advert for the way the justice system worked. The defendant got bail and decided to wait for a few weeks before killing the victim as it would mean that she had time to relax and think she was safe. The defendant is such a danger to the public." Chand admitted killing Christie from day one and has never denied any of the facts.

The Marceau family have chosen not to speak about the case until Chand is sentenced. They were in court yesterday and heard every detail of Christie's death and the lead-up to the tragedy discussed at great length.

Mrs Marceau has spoken only once publicly about the day Christie died - that was in an exclusive interview with the Herald in December.

"At first when I saw him, it was just a shock. I didn't know what was going to happen, to be honest," she said, describing the moment she first saw Chand at her front door. "I watched the life drain out of her while I was still holding her. I felt her slip away from me.

"I was telling her to hang on, that help was on its way. I know she tried, she really tried. And then she was gone. An officer came and checked her. Someone was asking about an ambulance and he said no, they didn't need one. Then I definitely knew that it was all over."

For months after Christie died Mrs Marceau struggled with intense feelings of guilt and wondered if she could have saved her daughter if she had run after her instead of calling the police. "I will never forgive myself. I have to live with that forever, for the rest of my life. I know it's not my fault, but it still goes through my mind. It's all I ever think about.

"Nothing would have changed the outcome. I know that now. Everyone says I should be glad that I was here with her. But we should never have had to go through that. We should have been safe.

"I can't think of how I can describe it. You're just so, so empty. Sometimes I can't get up in the morning. I just don't want to carry on.

"It's so devastating, and I wouldn't wish it on anybody. To know that you're not going to hold her again, you're not going to see her ..."

Both sides agree on insanity

Akshay Anand Chand killed Christie Marceau - that is a fact he has never denied.

But it was accepted yesterday that when he stabbed the teenager to death, he was insane.

He had planned to kill her, he knew what he was doing - but he did not know his actions were "morally wrong", a court ruled.

Chand has been extensively examined and assessed by two of New Zealand's leading psychiatric experts - Dr David Chaplow for the defence and Professor Ian Mellsop for the Crown.

Both agreed that Chand was suffering a disease of the mind, namely an early stage of schizophrenia, when he stabbed Christie to death. After his arrest he told police he had a female "accomplice" and two more people would die - including Christie's mother. That accomplice, he said, would keep killing without him.

He later revealed that the female was "Pauline" - a voice he had been hearing in his head for at least 18 months. Pauline made him kill Christie because she was possessed by the devil.

Both Dr Chaplow and Professor Mellsop agreed that because of his psychological condition, Chand should not be held legally accountable for his actions.

They said that when he killed Christie, he was hallucinating and overwhelmed by his illness.

Chand had a short history of depression, but both experts said that was symptomatic of schizophrenia.

In a report provided to the court Dr Chaplow said Chand was "insightless as to his moral culpability at the time".

"Chand lacked moral understanding of right from wrong in that specific context," he said.

Professor Mellsop said Chand "knew the nature and quality of his acts".

"But the degree and severity of his disease of the mind meant that he did not know that what he was doing was morally wrong when he stabbed and killed Christie."

Both experts agreed that Chand should be made a "special patient", meaning he would be detained at a mental health facility until - if ever - he is no longer a danger to the public.

That means he may never be released. The decision can only be made by the Minister of Health.

Last September, Christie Marceau was interviewed by police about the kidnap ordeal Akshay Chand had put her through. She was shaken, terrified and too afraid to leave her mother Tracey's side. For the first time, the Herald can publish exactly what Christie told police.

Chand called Christie and told her if she did not come to his house he would take 40 pills crushed in a drink. Christie went to stop him. Christie tells police what happened next:

'He got really angry and then he pulled a knife out of his back pocket ... he got up and stood over me. His right hand was shaking it as he was waving it. It was a kitchen knife, like one of those ones that you pull out of a knife set ... it was about 20cm and it looked like he'd sharpened it.

He said 'this is how it's gonna go - if you scream I'm gonna knife you'. When he said that to me I started crying because I thought he was gonna kill me. I've never been so terrified in my life. Then he told me to shut up and compose myself.

I wanted to text my friend because I wanted someone to help me ... he got up and had the knife in his right hand. He was saying 'give me your phone ... we can either do this the hard way or the easy way'. He said 'you'll know what you get if you don't give it to me'.

He was holding the knife and he was twisting it around and he said he had 'aims'. He said his aim was to terrify me, get revenge and then to kill himself.

He told me to take off my jumper and I had to throw it to him. He checked the pockets ... then he told me to take my shirt off and I said I wouldn't. He said 'you know what will happen if you don't do it' - so I had to. Then he said 'now take off your pants'. I said 'no, I won't do it, it's too far ... I can't do it'.

I started crying more, because I was getting an idea of what he wanted to do ... He held the knife out and he said 'you know what will happen', so I took them off.

He was sitting on the armchair and he had the knife in his hand and every so often he'd twirl it in his fingers and then he'd look at his fingers and he'd be like 'ouch' - like he cut himself.

He was talking about ... how he believes one night the devil came and grabbed him and since then he's been in a losing battle.

I said 'are you going to kill me?' I felt like he was going to kill me ... he said that he planned to rape me. I burst out crying because I felt so terrified. Again, he told me to compose myself.

I thought if I cried out loud enough the neighbours in the next house would hear me because the whole time I was there I could hear them talking ... I just wanted someone to hear me ... I just wanted to cry louder because I could hear the neighbour and I thought he would be able to hear me and someone would be able to do something.

He put the knife down and he said 'I'm gonna let you go ... but I just want you to know that once you leave I'm gonna drink the drink'. I told him 'I don't want you to drink it ... it's not worth it'. He said it was his only option because his parents don't love him.

I just got in my car and I locked my door and I drove straight home.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 26 Dec 2014 06:51:45 Processing Time: 537ms