An ex-girlfriend of Alaric Eccleston - who died after jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge following a police chase yesterday - says he was the "perfect gentleman" when they met, but turned into a "really nasty person" when he wasn't on his meds for schizophrenia.
Dannie, who did not want to be identified by her full name, first met the 31-year-old a few years ago.
"He was a really good guy, but he's actually schizophrenic, he's meant to be on medication," she said.
"When he doesn't take it he turns into a really nasty person."
Eccleston had been on the run from police for five months after cutting off his electronic monitoring bracelet in April.
Yesterday he sparked a police chase that started in Orewa and snaked around inner-city Auckland suburbs before he suddenly abandoned his car at the top of the Harbour Bridge and jumped into the Waitemata Harbour.
When not on his medication, Dannie said Eccleston was the type of person who would watch an ATM to steal from people. When taking his meds, he was a "really beautiful person" who would "do anything for anyone".
Dannie dated Eccleston for three months several years ago, but stayed good friends with him until recently, when she decided he was becoming too dangerous to be near.
"He was getting desperate. It's so sad that I happened and it ended that way.
"He had just hit rock bottom."
Dannie said news of his death was "surreal".
"It hasn't really sunken in yet. I don't know, I suppose when the funeral comes it will hit."
She said Eccleston's death was sad and a waste. But she added he was a "dangerous man" who was better off in jail.
Despite his bad side, Eccleston still "loved his family" and had ambitions.
"He was like any other person, he had hopes and dreams. He wanted to be, like, a rapper. He loved Drake, Drake was his inspiration."
Over the past seven years Eccleston had served time for a string of violence, theft and driving crimes.
In 2009 was accused of attacking his elderly landlord with a knife and demanding his car and money.
He served a four-year sentence for aggravated robbery.
A parole board spokesman said he came before the board twice. His release conditions expired in 2013.
In January this year he appeared for sentence in the Whangarei District after earlier pleading guilty to charges of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, reckless driving causing injury, possession of cannabis plant, and failing to stop.
He also admitted three charges of breach-of-release conditions and two of theft.
Judge Duncan Harvey said Eccleston's reckless driving was among the worst he could recall and it was fortunate he did not kill anyone.
He was sentenced to home detention so he could treat his addiction to methamphetamine.
While on the run, he was charged with assault using the butt of a firearm and breaching his home detention conditions.