Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Hospital cleared of wrongdoing after fatal stabbing

Paul Gottermeyer
Paul Gottermeyer

A probe into how a mental health outpatient was able to stab a young mother to death and slash her throat in front of her daughter has cleared the hospital of any wrongdoing.

Market gardener Paul Gottermeyer has been sentenced to life imprisonment for what a judge described as a "horrible attack of the utmost gravity".

This morning at the High Court in Christchurch the 29-year old from Kaiapoi will be told how long he must stay behind bars, when a judge determines his minimum non-parole period.

Gottermeyer was on medication and an outpatient at Hillmorton psychiatric hospital when he carried out the attack.

The little girl saw Gottermeyer enter her Christchurch family home on July 11 last year and stab her mum to death before slashing her throat.

"Mummy did bleed everywhere ... and mummy scream," she told police.

A court earlier heard how Gottermeyer had been suffering from a significant depressive illness.

Justice John Fogarty jailed Gottermeyer for life last November, but adjourned the case for a psychiatrist's report under section 104 of the Criminal Procedures (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act to be prepared, to establish his mental state of mind at the time of the killing.

The judge asked for the report to include notes on why Gottermeyer was still on medication, why he was an outpatient at Hillmorton when the murder occurred, and any other clinical observations which would assist the court in judging the extent of "his history of depression and associated episodes".

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), which has responsibility for Hillmorton, carried out an investigation into the tragic case.

"Our internal reviews have not found any faults in the care provided to this patient nor have there been any recommendations to the Health Quality and Safety Commission," said Dr Sue Nightingale, the CDHB specialist mental health services chief of psychiatry.

The woman and her daughter have been granted final name suppression.

About 50 family members and friends of the victim filled the court last year to see Gottermeyer sentenced and tell him how the crime had affected the family.

The woman's distraught father asked the killer why he had taken his "little princess".

"Life will never be the same," he said. "I feel angry and betrayed."

Other family members say the young girl, who was three at the time of the attack, suffers night terrors and relives the ordeal.

The woman's brother told Gottermeyer the impact had been "sad and sickening".

The court heard how Gottermeyer left home at 7am on July 11 last year with a large kitchen knife and drove to the woman's house.

He was let inside where a heated argument developed in the kitchen.

Gottermeyer knocked her to the ground, and stabbed her repeatedly in the head, hands, chest, and back, before slashing her throat.

When he was arrested, he said the girl had not seen the attack. He said he closed the kitchen door and left water, biscuits, and a mandarin for the girl before driving home.

After showering and washing his clothes, he dumped the murder weapon which was never recovered.

The woman's body was found when her partner came home later that morning to check why she had not arrived at work.

He found the daughter crying and upset.

The woman was found lying face down in the kitchen, and police were called.

The killer was found driving on Marshlands Rd at 12.25pm.

Gottermeyer admitted the attack, and told officers: "I'm not a very nice person."


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