Parliament axe attacker bailed to secure mental health unit

The damaged part of Parliament Buildings in Wellington (RNZ Photo by Ben Strang)

Wellington, January 13, 2021

A man accused of launching an axe attack on Parliament has been bailed to a secure mental health unit.

Police were called to an incident at Parliament about 5.30am on Wednesday. Five glass panels were smashed at the main entrance.

A 31-year-old man, who usually resides in Auckland, has name suppression and appeared in Wellington District Court on four charges this afternoon. His appearance before Judge Hastings was held in a basement secure cell because of the man’s mental health.

Four Charges in Court

The four charges are intentionally damaging a glass wall at a Rotorua Service Station on December 4, 2020, intentionally damaging Parliament Buildings, resisting a Police Officer and having an offensive weapon.

Police opposed bail due to the risk to the public, however, the man has been bailed to a secure mental health facility. He has been seen by a forensic nurse and mental health professional.

Judge Hastings ordered further reports to be produced on the man’s fitness to enter a plea and insanity reports.

Hastings said that the man had made comments that concerned him, but they were not racist or politically motivated.

The accused will next appear in Court on January 28, 2020.

Full review into attack

Parliamentary Service is carrying out a full review of the attack.

Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said that the incident was “unfortunate,” but managed well by security.

“I want to acknowledge their swift and professional action in dealing with it,” he said in a statement. The plans in place to respond to an incident of this nature had been practised and today shows that they have been executed effectively,” he said.

A review would consider whether any security measures needed to be beefed up on the precinct, Gonzalez-Montero said.

“I am proud that the New Zealand Parliament is one of the most open, accessible Parliaments in the world and I very much hope that this continues. However, the safety of those who work at, or visit, Parliament is crucial and Parliamentary Service works hard to maintain the right balance between security and accessibility,” he said.

Activists were also free to protest “safely and peacefully” on the premises as long as they complied with conditions laid out on Parliament’s website, he said.

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