Christie Marceau's parents: Inquest 'almost sucked life out of us'

Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Saturday, 24 June 2017, 7:37AM
Christie Marceau. Photo / supplied
Christie Marceau. Photo / supplied

For the last two weeks Tracey and Brian Marceau have sat in the back of a courtroom listening to details of their daughter's brutal death be described, examined and picked apart.

They shed tears, they got angry, there were times it all became too much and they walked out - but every day they returned, their crusade for justice for Christie stronger than their personal pain.

Christie was killed in her own home in 2011 by Akshay Chand.

He was on bail for an earlier assault on Christie and had been ordered to stay away from her.

READ MORE: Christie Marceau inquest: The trail to tragedy

Christie's death broke hearts across New Zealand, but no one has suffered more than her parents and sister Heather.

Tracey and Brian spoke to the Weekend Herald about the inquest, where for the first time they heard the full details of the events leading up to the loss of their youngest daughter.

"Over the last two weeks, having to listen to that information and a lot of stuff we hadn't heard before has been quite emotionally distressing," Tracey said.

"It's almost sucked the life out of us again.

"It was quite painful."

The couple sat in courtroom 5.1 in the Auckland District Court on the rigid public gallery seats for six hours a day, listening to everyone from police to Chand's mother analyse Christie's death.

"You're sitting there and suddenly you realise some of the things you'd been told weren't quite as they were," Brian said.

Tracey added: "We've waited a long time for it, so it was good from that point of view.

"I think we do have a better understanding of the events that led up to Christie's death.

"In the backs of our mind we had a fair idea anyway but being told to our faces made things a lot clearer to us."

November will be the sixth anniversary of Christie's death, and her family had a long wait for answers.

Christie's voice: Tracey and Brian Marceau speak about the inquest into their daughter's death. (Photo / Nick Reed)

Since it was announced an inquest would be held, a hearing date was scheduled, then vacated as it was not a long enough time frame, the presiding Coroner retired and the file was transferred to his colleague and lawyers for some of the parties involved sought to have points of law addressed.

For the Marceau family, the wait was agonising.

"In the six years of waiting, it's almost felt like a David and Goliath situation," said Brian.

"We had a really, really tight family bond and there was no way we were ever going to stop - but some days it was like; 'Are we bashing our heads against a wall?'," Tracey said.

But they stuck it out, knowing they needed answers.

Tracey said they had to.

"Because we love our girl, and she was taken from us..." she said, dissolving into tears.

"And so was her voice," Brian added, before comforting his wife.

Christie Marceau (centre) with her mother Tracey and sister Heather. (Photograph supplied)

Just after 7am on November 7 2011 Christie Alexis Lesley Marceau took her last breath, cradled in her distraught mother's arms.

As Christie died, the result of multiple stab wounds, Tracey told her she loved her, that everything would be OK.

Minutes earlier Chand had forced his way into the Marceau's home, chasing Christie downstairs to a deck where he killed her as she tried to unlock a gate to the driveway and escape.

Chand was on bail at the time and facing charges of kidnapping Christie at knife point, assaulting her with intent to rape and threatening to do grievous bodily harm.

Police opposed bail, repeatedly, and Christie wrote a letter to the court, pleading for Chand to be held in custody.

She was terrified of him.

And she was right to be.

Just 33 days after he was bailed to his mother's home - within a kilometre of the Marceau's - he breached all of his release conditions and killed the girl he had become obsessed with.

Akshay Anand Chand appears in court after being charged with the murder of Christie Marceau in November 2011. (New Zealand Herald photograph)

In court he had feigned remorse, apologies and a willingness to obey - but he deceived everyone.

The whole time, he was planning how he would get to Christie, how he would kill her.

In 2012 Chand was convicted of the first set of charges but found not guilty by reason of insanity on the murder charge.

Over the last two weeks Coroner Katharine Greig held an inquest into Christie's death in a bid to ascertain where changes can be made to the bail process to prevent anyone else being killed in similar circumstances.

The aim - to find out what went wrong, where, and who could have or should have done more or better to protect Christie from harm.

"He took her physically but spiritually she will always be there and she's a really strong power," Tracey told the Weekend Herald.

"I think she's with us all the time and she pushes us forward.

"I just miss her walking into the room... it never gets any easier."

Coroner Greig will now consider all of the inquest evidence and has indicated she will make a number of recommendations around the wider bail process.

Timeline: Christie Marceau, from death to inquest

September 6 2011

Akshay Chand lures Christie Marceau to his home, forces her to remove her clothes at knifepoint and threatens to rape and stab her.

September 7 2011
Chand appears in the North Shore District Court and is remanded in custody.

October 5 2011
After a number of court appearances where bail is denied, Chand is released by Judge David McNaughton, under strict conditions including a 24 hour curfew.

November 7 2011
Chand sneaks out of his house, walks to the Marceau home and stabs Christie to death.

October 2012
Chand is convicted on the September charges but found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

If you are worried about yourself or someone else, help is available.

If this is an emergency, if you feel you or someone else is at risk or harm phone 111 immediately.

or go to your nearest hospital emergency department (ED)

or phone your local DHB mental health crisis team (CATT team).

or ring Healthline 0800 611 116

or if you need to talk to someone else:

0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999

Suicide Prevention Helpline
0508 828 865 (0508 tautok0)

0800 376 633

0800 726 666

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free 24/7 helpline 0800 111 757 or free text 4202

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