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Albany axe attacker named, to be detained in psychiatric care after acquittal

Author
George Block,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Apr 2024, 1:53pm

Albany axe attacker named, to be detained in psychiatric care after acquittal

Author
George Block,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Apr 2024, 1:53pm

A man who attacked diners with an axe, injuring six people at Chinese restaurants in Albany last year, has learned his fate after he was acquitted by reason of insanity. 

Fanrong Meng, 25, appeared in the Auckland District Court via visual link from the Mason Clinic before Judge Pippa Sinclair, who ordered that he should be detained as a special patient in a secure psychiatric facility. 

He can be named for the first time after his bid for permanent name suppression failed. 

Thursday morning’s disposition hearing came after an appearance in November last year when another judge found that while he committed the axe rampage, he was not criminally liable for his actions because he was so unwell he was unable to know what he was doing was wrong. 

The young man came to New Zealand shortly before the attack on a three-year work visa and suffers from schizophrenia. He stopped taking his medication before immigrating to NZ, citing the cost, the court heard. 

Meng was flanked by an Immigration Officer at the secure psychiatric facility during the hearing, appearing on a screen in court. 

Crown prosecutor Taniela-Afu Veikune said Meng should be detained as a special patient in a secure facility, arguing he posed a significant and ongoing risk to others. 

His lawyer Michael Kan said the man should not be subject to a special patient order, to allow him to be deported to China, where he could live with his parents and receive treatment. 

Judge Sinclair ordered that Meng be detained in a hospital as a special patient under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992. 

“Given the nature of the incident, public safety must be the paramount consideration,” Judge Sinclair said. 

He can be detained for half the length of the maximum sentence of the most serious charge, wounding grievous bodily harm, which is 14 years, meaning he can be kept in a secure psychiatric facility for seven years. 

Meng’s patient status would need to be reclassified before any deportation proceedings can be launched, it is understood. 

Kan sought permanent name suppression for his client, saying his family could be targeted in China if his name was published. 

Veikune opposed suppression and said the high threshold of extreme hardship required under the law for permanent suppression was not met. 

Judge Sinclair declined the application and said there was no evidence that publication of his name would cause extreme hardship. The judge suppressed the names of the victims. 

Meng injured six people on June 19, 2023, starting when he burst into Maya Hotpot in Albany’s Corinthian Drive, armed with a pole and an axe, where he struck three diners. 

Members of the public help one of the victims after the restaurant axe attack in June 2023. Photo / SuppliedMembers of the public help one of the victims after the restaurant axe attack in June 2023. Photo / Supplied 

Meng then went to the nearby Yue’s Dumpling Kitchen, knocked his fourth victim unconscious and then attacked a fifth person. 

After this, he went to the third and final restaurant, Zhangliang Malatang, and attacked his sixth and final victim. 

Police at the scene in Albany's Corinthian Dr after the attack in June 2023. Photo / Hayden Woodward.
Police at the scene in Albany's Corinthian Dr after the attack in June 2023. Photo / Hayden Woodward. 

He was arrested at the scene. 

Meng, who had only arrived in NZ from China in March last year, accepted he attacked people that day. 

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald here. 

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