Upper Hutt School Gunman Jailed For 9 Months, NZ Safe Place For Kids?

Parents moving to New Zealand looking for a better life for their kids may be surprised to hear that their children are more likely to be exposed to dangers they would not have otherwise experienced.

Schools in New Zealand have open campuses with little or no control over who can and can’t enter the school grounds (although some schools in south Auckland now have a police presence) We’ve written before about school invasions where groups of maurading kids from one school storm into another and wreak havoc on defenseless victims, both in classes and in the playground.

We’ve also blogged about gun controls in New Zealand. How there are at least 1.1 million firearms in circulation and that gun crime is incredibly frequent. We’ve also spoken about the lenient sentences  handed out to violent criminals and a woeful lack of mental health support for substance abusers until they hit the prison system (by which time it’s too far late for their victims)

Today  all of those elements combined when a 20 year old Joshua Duncan Evans was  handed down a 9 month sentence for taking a semi automatic  SKS semi-automatic rifle into one of two schools in Upper Hutt Wellington (Upper Hutt College or Fergusson Intermediate). He was also found guilty of dangerous driving, refusing to give a blood specimen, threatening to kill, wilful damage, three charges of assaulting police, two of assault and two of resisting arrest.

Apparently Evans has a desperate need treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, if he gets it whilst inside his sentence may be altered accordingly.

“Judge Davidson said Evans desperately needed the treatment. He also disqualified him from driving indefinitely.

Evans was arrested in August last year after his driving at a Stokes Valley shopping centre endangered pedestrians. While he was on bail for that, in January, he was spoken to again by police, who suspected him of drink-driving.

He was taken to a police station for a breath test but bit one police officer and butted another.

On February 1 he became upset after drinking on learning that his mother would not offer her home to be used for his home detention.

He broke into his father’s gun locker and took the rifle and ammunition.

He pointed the gun at his mother in the back yard of their Trentham home. She managed to lock herself in the house and flee.

Evans broke into the house and then wandered Trentham streets with the gun, past Upper Hutt College and Fergusson Intermediate. He went into one of the schools before being found by police.

Judge Davidson said Evans’ mother had been terrified for her life. Evans had obvious problems with drugs, alcohol and mood disorders. He had a significant list of convictions, mostly for driving, drugs and dishonesty…” (source)

See also:

A woman, said to have a history of mental illness, threatened to release nerve gas in a suburban Auckland street.

Axe killer deemed insane: Preston Cole Rameka, 28, was suffering from schizophrenia and was “acutely psychotic” at the time of the murder.

Hokitika shootings suspect to undergo psychiatric evaluation: A man and his grandson were shot to death by an intruder with a rifle, in their Hokitika home.

Killing of Gaynor White highlights mental health issues in New Zealand: 62 year old grandmother bludgeoned to death with a hammer by an intruder (homebake heroin addict) in her Huntsbury home.

Dianne Elizabeth White battered to death with a hammer in a home invasion in Hamilton: A woman with a history of mental health problems is currently in detention.

The Ministry of Health estimates of the prevalence of mental health problems amongst adult New Zealanders as follows:

  • about 3 percent of the population have severe mental health problems or disorders
  • another 5 percent of adult New Zealanders have moderate/severe mental health problems or disorders
  • another 12 percent of adult New Zealanders have mild/moderate mental health problems or disorders

Although many people with mental disorders present to primary care services, service provision in response to their needs depends on the interest and expertise of individual practitioners. Therefore models and standards of service delivery are haphazard and inconsistent. In the current primary health care system, barriers to the provision of effective primary mental health services include:

  • cost to the GP
  • cost to the service user
  • GP confidence and competence.”

A national, Study of Psychiatric Morbidity in NZ Prisons, may show evidence of a failure to provide adequate treatment and support to people with mental illnesses, it’s reflected in the high number of convicts with mental health disorders:

“The results indicate a significantly higher rate of mental disorder than that in the community. This is particularly so for schizophrenia, for bipolar disorder, for major depression, for obsessive compulsive disorder and for post traumatic stress disorder. All these conditions are associated with high levels of distress and disability, especially during the acute phases of these illnesses.

The National Study also revealed that nearly 60 percent of all inmates have at least one major personality disorder.

The National Study estimates that all inmates who have a current diagnosis of schizophrenia or a related disorder and bipolar disorder will require active psychiatric treatment and of those, 135 will require inpatient treatment. The life-time and one-month prevalence for these disorders is significantly higher than in the community. Of those inmates in the acute phase of these disorders, 30.6 percent are currently receiving mental health medication.”

One has to ask if many of these people only have access to and receive proper assessment and treatment after they’ve entered the prison system, why isn’t far more being done before they get to that stage? Why wait for a crime to be committed?

Surely it would be lot more cost effective and better for NZ society if people received treatment for their condition before they become a danger to everyone else and themselves.