Dixon twice referred to Mason Clinic
Mon, 27 Aug 2012 11:16a.m.
By Dan Satherley
An inquest into the prison death of Antonie Dixon has heard how he was twice referred to the Mason Clinic – a provider of psychiatric care.
Giving evidence at the inquest this afternoon, psychiatrist Krishna Pillai says it was difficult to diagnose Dixon's specific problems, as he was not only using drugs such as methamphetamine, but also an adept liar.
In 2003, Dr Pillai saw Dixon after he was referred to the Mason Clinic following the samurai sword attacks.
He was treated for a "brief methamphetamine-induced psychosis", and showed much improvement.
After his initial conviction in 2005, Dixon became problematic, often violent and reporting "blackouts". Dr Pillai says Dixon, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders likely relating to childhood abuse.
After his conviction was quashed, his condition reportedly deteriorated as he waited for his retrial. At various meetings with Dixon, Dr Pillai says he often used vague terms like "paranoia", and was not taking his medication regularly.
Dixon's behaviour was erratic - one time he was calm enough to sit in a room with Dr Pillai, who said he could be "articulate" - but on another occasion, Dixon refused to let him in, nor see his face.
The day before Dixon died, Dr Pillai was told Dixon was at the at-risk unit on a "tie-down" bed, used to restrain prisoners at risk of harming themselves.
Dixon appeared to Dr Pillai in a "poor physical state" and seemed to be suffering from delirium, maybe worsened by Dixon's refusal to eat, ongoing restraint and sleep deprivation.
He had an infection in his wrists, caused by repeated bouts of being forcibly restrained, but could not get the antibiotic treatment in hospital he needed due to security concerns.
On the day he died, Dixon appeared calm and lucid - Dr Pillai said he recognised him, and knew the date - the day before he was due to be sentenced.
He did however express concerns he was going to be murdered - perhaps by a prison officer.
Dr Pillai says Dixon's mental state was inconsistent - they included bouts of psychotic behaviour, narcissistic, paranoid and antisocial personality disorders, but on occasion he could be exhibit rational thinking.
He says he believes Dixon sometimes misreported his mental state in order to get medication.
"There was even a possibility in the back of my mind that these persecutory delusions... were made up," says Dr Pillai.
Dr Pillai says over 2008 and 2009, Dixon's mental state deteriorated significantly.
In 2008, Dixon would often talk about how he was one of the 144,000 mentioned in the Bible book of Revelations. Dr Pillai says this gave him a sense of "righteousness" about what he was doing.
Dr Pillai says on the day he died, Dixon "didn't appear very frightened". He was "very calm", but speaking in a "conspiratorial tone".
"He didn't appear to be somebody on the brink of killing themselves," he says.
Dr Pillai suggests if Dixon knew what he was doing, he might have killed himself rather than face life in prison.
"Those driven to suicide by prominent persecutory beliefs usually appear very fearful. He did not."
Officers performed CPR
The nurse on duty the night Antonie Dixon died has given evidence at the inquest into his death.
G Pontanosas says Dixon didn’t have any medication delivered that night because he had been refusing to take it.
Mr Pontanosas says when he was informed of an emergency, he wasn’t aware what had happened.
When he arrived at the cell, he saw Dixon lying on the ground with his arms out, and a "cord" around his neck. Three prison officers were present, waiting for a fourth so they could enter, but when he saw Dixon, knowing he had to act quickly, Mr Pontanosas didn't speak to them.
"As soon as I saw the cord, I had to run back to get my medical equipment," says Mr Pontanosas.
Surveillance footage shows this was at 8:56pm, but there are doubts the timing is accurate. Mr Pontanosas estimates it was 8:50pm.
When he got back (at 8:59pm according to the footage) there were four officers, already performing CPR. Mr Pontanosas commenced giving Mr Dixon oxygen. He heard a noise from Dixon's throat, so they rolled him onto his side to clear his airway.
He says blood was coming out of Dixon's mouth with each compression.
St John paramedics arrived about 20 or 25 minutes later, and instructed him to stop CPR as Dixon had died.
When asked why he didn't stay and act as a fourth person, allowing the officers to enter the cell, Mr Pontanosas said as a nurse, not an officer, his presence did not count towards the quota.
Cell camera was ‘blacked out’ before death
The Corrections officer tasked with keeping an eye on Antonie Dixon the night he died noticed the camera in his cell had been blacked out, around five hours before Dixon's death.
Giving evidence at the inquest into Dixon’s death this afternoon the officer, who cannot be named, says he reported the issue to his superior after the prisoners’ meal break, but it was not investigated immediately as there were not at least three other officers present to enter the cell.
A rule forbids officers unlocking a cell unless there are four officers to each prisoner.
The officer says if he had seen Dixon tearing off a piece of the blanket (that he later used to kill himself), he still would not have entered the cell without at least three other officers present.
Asked by Coroner Garry Evans why he would wait for four men, the officer said he had to consider his own safety and that other staff members.
After hearing a thump from Dixon's cell, the officer investigated and found Dixon with a cloth around his neck, bleeding, and says he radioed for assistance.
He then went back to Dixon's cell, and saw the prisoner holding the cloth, still around his neck.
The officer asked Dixon what he was doing, but Dixon didn't respond.
He then went back to the workstation to find out how long it would be until other officers arrived. Returning to the cell, the officer saw Dixon fall over, then went back to the workstation to advise what he had seen.
"If a senior officer said to you, 'Unlock', you would have unlocked, would you?" Coroner Garry Evans asked the officer.
"If that was a legal order, yes," the officer replied.
At 9:02pm, four officers entered the cell, seven minutes after Dixon had first been observed holding the cloth around his neck.
The officer was the only one on duty that night that had a key to Dixon's cell.
When asked if the four-to-one ratio rule would be ignored in the case of an emergency such as a fire, the officer said unless he was told otherwise by his superiors, he would stick to the rules, as they were in place to protect staff.
Dixon gave officer ‘thumbs up’
The officer says he had not dealt with Dixon before the night of his death in February 2009, but was aware of his history.
He was required to check Dixon at least every 15 minutes, but says he checked him more often than that.
Shortly before Dixon's death, the officer checked on the prisoner, who gave him a smile and a "thumbs-up".
A few minutes later, the officer witnessed Dixon standing close to the door with blood on his face.
He reported what he had seen, requesting more officers and a medical team, then went back to the cell and saw Dixon "fall over".
The officer had keys to the cell, but wouldn't go in without at least three other officers, because of the danger Dixon posed to staff.
Two other officers arrived at 8:56pm, and another a few minutes later. They entered the cell at 9pm, and began performing CPR.
The officer discovered the camera had been blocked out with wet toilet paper.
Around 9:20pm, paramedics arrived and told him there was no point in continuing CPR, as Dixon was dead.
Det Sgt Richard Armstrong of North Shore Police says a post-mortem of Dixon's body showed he had injuries consistent with having been restrained in the days before his death.
A report from Environmental Science and Research, read in Auckland District Court today, claims traces of methamphetamine were found in Dixon’s blood and urine after he died. There was no trace of cannabis or alcohol in his system.
Mr Armstrong says police were satisfied his fatal injuries were self-inflicted and no one else was involved.
Dixon’s family want inquest kept private
Earlier this morning, Antonie Dixon’s family argued the inquest should be private.
Julian Dixon, Antonie’s brother, said his right to privacy had been breached in not being able to speak at the inquest privately.
He said the previous coroner overseeing the case, Murray Jamieson, had told him in a private conversation that he would be able to, but had no documents proving this was the case.
"I hadn't expected anything that's happened here today, I was quite surprised," Mr Dixon told Coroner Garry Evans, who is overseeing the inquest.
Julian Dixon said he had been "misled", as he had no idea if the inquest was going to be private or public.
"I never heard that information, and that single piece of information would have made a huge difference to what I'm saying today," said Mr Dixon.
Cor Evans told Mr Dixon he had been sent letters explaining there would be a public inquest in August, and he had not responded.
Cor Evans said it was important this inquest be reported on by the media, considering allegations made by Mr Dixon's family and lawyer concerning Antonie Dixon's death in custody.
Those allegations were that the Department of Corrections and Ministry of Justice were trying to "cover up" the circumstances of Antonie Dixon's death.
A police representative also rejected Mr Dixon's claims, saying as the death happened in custody, it was a public matter.
Mr Dixon said his opposition to media reporting on the inquest was "quite clear - I am unprepared".
He also said he objected to coverage because he would not be able to "edit" what was printed.
Antonie Dixon’s criminal past
Antonie Dixon shot one person dead and attacked another two with a samurai sword during a drug-fuelled rampage in January 2003.
He died in Auckland's Paremoremo Prison in February 2009, six months after he was found guilty of the attacks.
It is understood he died from head and neck injuries and his death was self-inflicted.
Dixon first attacked Simonne Butler and Renee Gumbie with a samurai sword while high on methamphetamine in Pipiroa, near Thames, on January 21, 2003.
The attacks severed or partially severed their hands.
Later that evening, he murdered James Te Aute in suburban Auckland, shooting him several times in the back.
Dixon was first found guilty in 2005, but his convictions were quashed in 2007. At a retrial in 2008, he was again found guilty.
Dixon's defence was that he was insane, but prosecutors said that although he had a personality disorder, he knew what he was doing during his rampage.
His lawyer Barry Hart said Dixon had a "terrible background", and was abused as a child by parents who were more focused on their religion than raising their son.
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27/08/2012 6:59:50 p.m.
Given that the guy was on suicide watch and had been under close observation for his entire prison stay the main question the coroner should be asking is how the hell did he get the meth?? The level exhibited in his blood could only have been consumed within two days of his death
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