11 Sep 2014

Man remanded to mental health unit

2:12 pm on 11 September 2014

A man found covered in the blood of his dead elderly neighbour is likely to spend the rest of his life at a secure mental health unit.

Zijad Garibovic was charged with murdering his neighbour 77-year-old neighbour, Roy Eric Lowe.

The pair lived at the Merton Village in the east Auckland suburb of St Johns. On April 4 this year, Mr Garibovic called police to say he arrived home to find Mr Lowe dead in his unit.

The first officer on the scene found Mr Garibovic covered in Mr Lowe's blood and inside the body was discovered.

Mr Lowe had been subjected to a violent assault that included multiple blows to his head and body. He also showed signs of having been strangled.

The 71-year-old has never said what happened that day at his unit, but maintained that he returned home to find Mr Lowe dead.

At the High Court in Auckland today, Justice Lang said he had received reports from mental health workers that showed Mr Garibovic had dementia and his condition was likely to get worse.

Suppression orders had prevented Radio New Zealand from reporting on the case before today, but Justice Lang has lifted these.

Public needs to be protected - judge

Crown prosecutor Warren Cataract said Mr Garibovic appears to have dementia and his condition is likely to get worse. He said the illness was directly linked to the homicide.

Mr Garibovic was not in court today. His lawyer, John Anderson, said his client's family pleaded to have him excused because the appearances were so distressing for him. He has also suffered a heart attack recently.

Justice Lang said he had received reports from mental health professionals which showed Mr Garibovic is unfit to give his lawyers instructions and stand trial.

He said Mr Garibovic was responsible for the brutal killing of a fellow human being for no apparent reason and he had also assaulted a staff member while in custody.

The judge said Mr Garibovic is likely to need fulltime care and the public need to be protected from him. He was remanded to the Mason Clinic as a special patient.

Justice Lang said the was no prospect that Mr Garibovic would recover and would only be able to leave with the permission of the Minister of Health.