A man who beat a pensioner to death outside the front door of his Auckland flat was acting as an "agent of God" and had a delusional "divine endorsement" to carry out the killing, a court has heard.
Gabriel Hikari Yad-Elohim - a man with a history of schizophrenia - is on trial for the murder of Michael David Mulholland. The case began last week before a jury and Justice Gerard van Bohemen in the High Court at Auckland.
It is agreed Yad-Elohim beat Mulholland, 69, to death - a CCTV camera recorded the entirety of Yad-Elohim's attack.
Mulholland's body was found in the stairwell at the Western Springs flats where he lived on September 26 last year.
The Crown suggested the killing was a "drug deal gone wrong" after Mulholland was unable to give Yad-Elohim his fix, despite Mulholland having no history of drug dealing or gang ties.
The defence team, led by Annabel Cresswell, is seeking a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity for Yad-Elohim, who changed his name from Yuuki Watanabe to his Hebrew name, which translated means "hand or messenger of God".
Today, psychiatrist Dr James Cavney, the defence's expert witness, said Yad-Elohim was suffering from several delusions.
He said the 30-year-old Japanese man was hearing voices from God and believed he was "acting as an agent of God".
Yad-Elohim thought he had a divine endorsement to make the world a better place, Cavney testified.
The doctor said Yad-Elohim also had delusions of persecution, believing people were out to get him, and delusions of control.
The court has heard earlier Yad-Elohim was hearing voices, one was of Satan, the second was a voice telling him to avoid and not trust ethnic minorities.
Medical notes also showed Yad-Elohim had thoughts and voices telling him to kill people.
Cavney said Yad-Elohim may have been hearing the voices "before and at least during [the attack], and potentially after in the police interview".
But, he said, it was unclear which voice was speaking to Yad-Elohim.
"If it was Satan or God then it's right on point in terms of an insanity defence," Cavney said.
"He believes he has a special relationship with God, he believes he is God's messenger, he believes he has the protection of God, he believes he is the hand of God," the doctor explained, believing Yad-Elohim also suffers from a grandiose delusion.
Yad-Elohim's view of the court process, Cavney said, was that "God had it covered".
"The judge was acting on behalf of God ... the jury were the 12 tribes of Israel."
Yad-Elohim also saw himself as a Japanese anime character, Ichigo Kurosaki, a powerful samurai with supernatural powers, Cavney said.
He said Yad-Elohim was hearing a voice on the stairwell as he killed Mulholland, likely the same voice which told him not to trust Māori.
The doctor told the court Yad-Elohim's illness was exacerbated by his meth use but he "was so unwell his disease of the mind rendered him incapable of measuring moral wrongfulness".
"I don't think this was a revenge act, I think this was divine retribution."
Dr Peter Dean, the Crown's psychiatrist, said Yad-Elohim was probably hearing voices during the assault on Mulholland.
Cavney said CCTV footage moments before the attack shows the "most important three seconds of the video" as Yad-Elohim appears to be nodding at an invisible person. Later he is seen "scream[ing] and shouting at a ghost", the doctor told the court.
Last week, an external review came to light about the treatment given to Yad-Elohim, when he was a patient at Auckland District Health Board's acute mental health unit Te Whetu Tawera.
The review, which had not been disclosed to the court or lawyers involved in the trial, showed the medical notes kept on Yad-Elohim were "misleading".
However, when Dr Peter (William) McColl, the service clinical director at Te Whetu Tawera, was questioned under cross-examination by defence lawyer Matthew Goodwin he said his staff hadn't "dropped the ball".
"It was a good discharge, it was well thought through," McColl said.
"This is what we do."
McColl was the doctor who released Yad-Elohim from his care, confident the Japanese man was well.
"The hospital [Te Whetu Tawera] had become full," the doctor said.
"If it becomes full [we] look for people to discharge to respite," he said, explaining respite is the process of finding a halfway house for the patient.
"All the pieces were in place to follow up ... he was well, his symptoms had resolved.
"He no longer needed hospital-level care."
Three days after his release, the Tokyo-born man killed Mulholland.
Yad-Elohim has been in the care of the Mason Clinic, Auckland's regional forensic psychiatry services unit, since his arrest.
The trial continues.