A man who stabbed his wife in bed believed he was a Messiah and if he killed her, they would get a clear passage to heaven.

A High Court judge this morning ruled Simon Harvey Frank was suffering from a "disease of the mind" so was not guilty of Petra Frank's murder on account of insanity.

Justice Pheroze Jagose delivered his judgment in the High Court at Rotorua after Frank pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder.

He remanded Frank to a mental health facility where his treatment and care would be determined.


Frank, 56, from Wellington, killed his 58-year-old wife while the pair were on holiday in Taupo at Easter this year.

Justice Jagose said the pair had been married for 32 years and had a 30-year-old son and 28-year-old daughter.

Frank was diagnosed with bipolar in 1987 and began treatment.

Justice Jagose said the couple had gone to Taupo as Petra Frank had told colleagues they needed a weekend away as the relationship had been difficult. Frank had been agitated, had started a new job and had been getting possessive over Petra Frank.

Four days before their weekend away, Frank went to his psychiatrist after feeling "overwhelmed" and his medication was increased.

Justice Jagose said that on Saturday, April 15 about 8am, Frank approached his wife as she sat in bed.

Police investigate the scene where Simon Harvey Frank killed his wife in Taupo. Photo/file
Police investigate the scene where Simon Harvey Frank killed his wife in Taupo. Photo/file

He was armed with a large carving knife. He stabbed her twice in the torso, once in the chest and once under her right underarm.

She suffered stab wounds 13cm and 15cm deep, causing extensive bleeding to one of her lungs.

At 8.25am, Frank rang emergency services and told them he had just stabbed his wife, Justice Jagose said.

When they arrived, Petra Frank was in a lot of pain and was having difficulty breathing. She told emergency services her husband had stabbed her.

She died while being flown from Taupo to Waikato Hospital and a post-mortem examination concluded she wouldn't have survived her injuries.

Petra Frank was stabbed by her husband Simon Frank at this house in Taupo. Photo/file
Petra Frank was stabbed by her husband Simon Frank at this house in Taupo. Photo/file

Two psychiatrists prepared reports on Frank for the High Court, both of which concluded Frank was insane at the time.

The reports said Frank, who was described as a devout member of the Jewish synagogue, had paranoid and narcissistic traits.

He had a 30-year history of mental health issues, believing he was more special than others and could read words and shapes in the sky and derive meaning from the shapes of clouds.

Some of his paranoid thoughts included that his neighbours were running a P lab from his house, his neighbours were poisoning one of his trees and that the church was spreading rumours about his wife.

In the weeks leading up to Petra Frank's death, he was convinced his computer was hacked and as a result fell out with the Jewish community.

He was "brooding" over the situation, his sleep deteriorated yet he had higher energy than usual and spent a long time investigating his suspicions.

Justice Jagose said the psychiatrists' reports said Frank had told them he had seen the number three on his hands, which he thought meant it was either three days, three weeks or three months before the end of the world. He also saw faces in his fingernails and saw Jesus Christ on his hands.

On Friday April 14, he believed he was the Messiah and thought if he killed his wife, he and she would rise in heaven.

He told the psychiatrists his belief was based on the story of Abraham.

Justice Jagose said both reports said Frank suffered from schizoaffective disorder and he was incapable of knowing his actions were morally wrong.

In ruling Frank not guilty, Justice Jagose said Frank believed he was being instructed by God to stab his wife to test his faith.

"Mr Frank was incapable of realising stabbing his wife was morally wrong. He is therefore not guilty of murder on account of insanity."

The case will be called again in the High Court on November 24 when Frank's custody in the residential facility and ongoing treatment would be determined.

The couple's daughter was in court, supported by three other people. She declined to talk to the media.