WELLINGTON - The man who killed six people at Raurimu has been allowed out of Porirua psychiatric hospital on special leave less than two years after he was detained as a special patient.
Stephen Lawrence Anderson was found not guilty on grounds of insanity of the murders of the six, among them his father, and the attempted murder of four others.
He has visited his father's grave and has had limited "ground parole" in the hospital's extensive grounds, escorted by two staff members.
The leave decisions have horrified a close relative of a victim, who cannot believe Anderson has been allowed any form of leave so soon after the massacre.
"He was allowed to visit his father's grave to help him confront the enormity of what he had done," she said. "But what about the other five graves?"
Anderson, a schizophrenic, was detained as a special patient in December 1997, 10 months after he ran amok with his father's shotgun at the family lodge at Raurimu.
The relative said a letter from the Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi, to another family member was astonishing and frightening.
Dr Poutasi wrote: "Mr Anderson is in all likelihood going to continue to be granted increasing periods of leave in the community as part of his rehabilitation. However, I can assure you that this will happen only if he is deemed to be clinically safe."
That assurance has not satisfied the relative, and nor has a subsequent letter to her from Dr Poutasi. The relative said the system was subordinating the interests of the victims and their families to those of Anderson.
Before the community was "exposed to Anderson" again the Ministry of Health should have systems and policies to ensure there could be no recurrence, she said.
In other countries, cases such as Anderson's were considered from a criminal and a medical viewpoint, with as much emphasis on secure custody as on treatment.