Christie Marceau inquest: Killer's bail hearing detailed

7:54 am on 15 June 2017

The prosecutor in court when Akshay Chand was granted bail has confirmed to an inquest she didn't alert the judge that Chand's address was only two minutes' walk from his victim's home.

Outside the Auckland District Court on Albert Street.

The inquest into Christie Marceau's death is taking place in the Auckland District Court. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Sergeant Rhona Stace told the coroner she believed the judge knew Chand's address was about a kilometre from the Marceau family home and didn't raise the matter on 5 October, 2011. A month later Chand stabbed Christie Marceau, 18, to death at her Hillcrest home on Auckland's North Shore.

Shortly before the bail hearing, Ms Stace received a packet of information from the officer in charge of the case. As well as the map, it contained a transcript of Chand's DVD police interview in which he admitted kidnapping Miss Marceau at knifepoint and threatening to stab her.

But Ms Stace said when she tried to hand the documents to Judge David McNaughton through a registrar they were returned moments later.

Chand's bail hearing was one of about 50 matters called in the North Shore District Court that day.

"When the matter was subsequently called later in the day, it became immediately apparent from the content and tone of His Honour's remarks, that His Honour had moved beyond the issues that had been raised by way of police opposition to bail," Ms Stace said.

"Instead, His Honour was now focused on Mr Chand's treatment and the ability of mental health services to manage him at home on strict bail conditions."

She said she had little to add to the discussion about mental health.

"I was not given any opportunity to outline the police position on bail, although I knew that the court was well aware of police opposition to bail and the reasons for that opposition."

The lawyer for the Marceau family, Nikki Pender, asked Ms Stace why she didn't hand up the new documents and how she could be sure the judge was aware of police concerns.

Ms Pender: "Isn't the prudent course of action to let the judge know that for sure?"

Ms Stace: "The judge already knew that."

Ms Pender: "You are assuming the judge knew that, Sergeant, there is no..."

Ms Stace: "Well, I can't be responsible for how diligent an officer of the court may be."

Ms Stace was also asked how she could be sure Judge McNaughton had read the police opposition to bail document.

Ms Stace: "I'd be very surprised if he hadn't, because I would say it would be negligent not to."

Ms Pender: "Is it not your job to at least ask His Honour: 'You'd be aware of the opposition to bail?'"

Ms Stace: "No, quite frankly, it would be totally inappropriate because it would be suggesting the judge is incompetent."

The lawyer assisting the coroner, Hanne Janes, asked why Ms Stace didn't alert the judge to the proximity when the judge asked her for Miss Marceau's address.

Ms Janes: "You don't feel it's your responsibility to remind the court of an extremely critical piece of information?"

Ms Stace: "[The] judge had already made his decision so, no, it was clearly not appropriate for me to reiterate something that had already been well and truly covered."

Ms Stace was also asked by Coroner Katherine Greig if she had thought of how things could have been done differently.

"I have turned my mind to that question ... I don't know how many times in the last six years. I don't think there's a week that's gone by when I haven't actually had that case and Christie's death come to mind but, in all honesty, I could not see anything that could have been done differently that could have changed the decision that was made on the day."

The inquest has been set down for two weeks.