An inquest into the prison death of Antonie Dixon, who killed a man and mutilated two women in a P-fuelled rampage, is set to be held this year after family complaints about a three-year wait for a hearing.

Dixon severed the hand of Renee Gunbie and injured Simonne Butler with a samurai sword before shooting James Te Aute dead on a night of violence in January 2003.

His first convictions were quashed in 2007 by the Court of Appeal but he was again found guilty of eight charges in a retrial the following year.

Prison officials found him dead in his cell from what appeared to be self-inflicted injuries in February 2009, a day before he was due to resentenced.

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His sister Carla Dixon told Radio New Zealand the wait for a coroner's inquest into the death was suspicious.

"The longer it goes the more I think people are just hoping it will be forgotten and it's just going to get shelved deeper and deeper and there's going to be more excuses about the evidence that can't be found or the CCTV images that can't be found.

"To me the longer it goes the more it feels like a cover up."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said Wellington coroner Garry Evans would hold an inquest into Dixon's death this year, though no date had yet been set.

He said the coroner would address concerns from Dixon's family at the inquest as that was the "proper place" to respond.

Dixon's defence lawyer Barry Hart has criticised Corrections for its handling of Dixon's care.

He said it was clear his client was descending into paranoia in the weeks before his death.

Antonie Dixon
2003: Fuelled by P, Dixon attacks Simonne Butler and Renee Gunbie with a samurai sword in Pipiroa before driving to Auckland and shooting dead James Te Aute. He then holds Ian Miller hostage in his home.

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2005: At his trial Dixon claims he is insane. He is found guilty of murder, grievous bodily harm, firearm charges and shooting at police.

2008: Dixon has a second trial after his first conviction was quashed but is again found guilty.

2009: Dixon is found dead in his cell, the night before he was due to reappear in court.

- Herald online