Family killer: 'I still love my parents'

By Jimmy Ellingham

Police at the scene of the property on Takahe Rd, Titirangi, West Auckland. Photo / NZ Herald
Police at the scene of the property on Takahe Rd, Titirangi, West Auckland. Photo / NZ Herald

A west Auckland man accused of murdering his mother and attempting to murder his father in their home says he still loves his parents although his dad doesn't talk to him.

Max Allen McGowan has been found not guilty because of insanity over a violent incident in Titirangi in September last year that left his mother, June Gainsford McGowan, dead, and his father, Stephen Charles McGowan, seriously injured from knife wounds.

Justice Patricia Courtney confirmed the insanity finding and acquittal in the High Court at Auckland today after a hearing to determine McGowan's level of mental impairment.

Defence lawyer Sheila McCabe and the Crown both called expert evidence in psychiatry. Professor Graham Mellsop for the defence and Dr David Chaplow for the Crown agreed that McGowan, 35, should be declared insane under criminal legislation.

McGowan, who accepted he caused his mother's death and father's injuries, is now subject to a special treatment order.

He will be held at the Mason Clinic until the Minister of Health considers his detention is no longer needed to ensure the safety of the public.

Some aspects of what happened are suppressed, but it can be reported that at 6.30pm on September 11, McGowan was at home when he became anxious and agitated.

He picked up a large knife from the kitchen and walked to the lounge, where his parents were.

McGowan approached his father from behind and stabbed the side of his head and abdomen. McGowan's father suffered a wound to the ear, a deep wound to his body and a punctured liver.

McGowan's mother screamed and tried to intervene, but he stabbed her, cutting her face and inflicting a fatal wound to the abdomen.

McGowan's father saw his wife on the coach and disarmed his son, who then ran downstairs, picked up his backpack and left the house.

Emergency services were called and found McGowan's parents in a critical condition. Mrs McGowan deteriorated rapidly at the house, where she died, and Mr McGowan was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Police found Max McGowan a short distance away, after he washed blood of himself at a stream.

"When spoken to he admitted stabbing his parents ... He told the police he couldn't believe that had happened,'' Crown prosecutor Warren Cathcart said.

Max McGowan was to have gone to work that day, but turned back on his trip there, because he didn't feel well.

The court heard from the expert witnesses that McGowan had a history of mental illness and depression. He suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and sometimes heard voices in his head, but was now on medication.

"He still feels depressed, aggravated by guilt over what he's done,'' Prof Mellsop said.

Max McGowan was a loner who had trouble holding down a job, but had completed a bachelors degree, Prof Mellsop said. He was interested in art and computer games.

Prof Mellsop said "on the balance of probabilities'' McGowan didn't know that what he was doing was morally wrong.

The court was told McGowan now has some contact with his brother, but none with his father.

"I still love my parents. This has been the worst experience of my life,'' McGowan told Dr Chaplow during an interview.


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