A 23-year-old woman carried out a slash attack on another woman’s face because she believed she was a Japanese spy who was recording her thoughts.
The attacker thought she needed to drink the other woman’s blood, the Christchurch District Court was told at her sentencing on a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The woman, whose name was suppressed, admitted the charge.
The attack took place in Christchurch’s Hillmorton Hospital in April last year while both women were being treated as patients.
Judge Raoul Neave granted the attacker final name suppression because of her history of psychotic episodes. She suffered from abuse in her early life which has left her with post traumatic stress disorder.
The woman has been in custody at Christchurch Women’s Prison since the attack, or under treatment at Hillmorton Hospital where she is being tried on further medication.
Defence counsel Phil Shamy said the woman did not want to return to prison after the sentencing because she was being held in the At Risk Unit, because of the risk of self harm. The unit provides sparse, bare cells and solitary confinement.
The sentencing began with Mr Shamy handing the judge a letter of apology the woman had written to the victim. Psychiatric reports showed she had been suffering from a psychotic episode but not a disease of the mind such as schizophrenia.
He said the recorded interview with the police after the incident showed that when the police officer left the interview room, the woman was “quite clearly engaged in another conversation with other voices”.
Crown prosecutor Sean Mallett urged the judge to impose a sentence of greater than two years, which would mean that the Parole Board would be put in control of managing her release back into the community.
Judge Neave said that the woman had been allowed out of Hillmorton on a leave of absence, when she went to The Warehouse at Barrington Mall and bought a craft knife.
About 8pm the victim was in the toilet at a ward where both were patients at the hospital.
The woman burst into the toilet, pulled out the craft knife and slashed the other woman twice in the face, cutting her below the right ear and under the chin.
The victim needed 21 stitches to the wounds in surgery to repair her face and may be permanently scarred. She was depressed and distressed by the injury and cosmetic surgery was still to be decided.
Judge Neave said the woman admitted the attack and said she believed the victim was a Japanese spy who was recording her thoughts and she needed to drink her blood.
“This occurred during one of your well documented psychotic episodes,” said Judge Neave. The woman had a complex history, which included abuse that left her with post traumatic stress disorder.
The reason she gave, and her behaviour at the interview were all consistent with the attack taking place during a psychotic episode.
He imposed a two-year three-month jail term which will mean she is eligible for release soon, but the release will be considered and managed by the Parole Board.
Mr Shamy asked for final name suppression. He said the woman was now well managed and was not believed to pose a public danger. “She has had an appalling life,” he said. Judge Neave granted the order.