The man accused of murdering South Taranaki grandfather Maurice Riddle appeared in court last week.

Colin James Thompson appeared via audio-visual link from Whanganui prison to the New Plymouth High Court on Wednesday.

Defence lawyer Paul Keegan submitted a deemed not guilty plea to the murder charge.

Crown prosecutor Cherie Clarke requested the court order a mental health report under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act, a request which received Keegan objected to.


Keegan said such a report required an interview with the defendant by a court appointed psychiatrist and argued this affected his client's right to remain silent. Instead, suggested Keegan, the Crown would be able to independently review the private psychiatric report he was arranging to be done on Thompson.

Keegan said this report would be completed before Thompson's next court appearance scheduled for early May and indicated a plea change might occur at that point.

Keegan said the private report would cover any issues regarding his client's fitness to plead as well as make an assessment of Thompson's mental state at the time of the alleged offending.

Clarke argued should any mental health issues become apparent, two reports would be required anyway and pointed out she could find no examples in case law where a request for a court ordered psychiatric interview be declined in favour of a private report.

Justice Robert Dobson, who was presiding, ordered the mental health report be carried out as per the Crown's application, saying he noted Keegan's concerns in his decision.

Justice Dobson also pointed out the likelihood of any statements made by Thompson to the court ordered specialist being inadmissible in the event of a trial.

Thompson, 68, was remanded into custody until his next appearance on May 1.