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Homeless woman Barbara Campbell was kicked to death in Christchurch by a schizophrenic sleeper who had been in and out of mental health care for two decades.
And police were twice alerted to concerns about his behavior in the hours before the attack – including trying to force his way into another woman’s car when he was apparently ‘mad’ and ‘in anger “.
Richard Landkroon, 44, has been charged with murder after Campbell, also known as Rose, was fatally assaulted in January at the camp she had set up in a storefront on the edge of a New Brighton car park.
He was ruled unfit to enter a plea following a hearing in Christchurch High Court last month, meaning the case will not go to trial.
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Judge Jonathan Eaton ruled that, on a balance of probabilities, Landkroon murdered Campbell.
At another High Court hearing on Thursday, he was detained at Hillmorton Hospital as a special patient under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act.
A request to have his name continued removed was denied, but Things was not allowed to take pictures in court as he feared it would cause him “additional stress”.
Campbell was estranged from her family and suffering from terminal bowel cancer when she pulled into the New Brighton car park. She had struggled with alcoholism and mental health issues for many years.
By January 12, Landkroon, who also lived on the streets in the seaside suburb, had caused trouble in the area.
At around 8.50pm, police were called to the parking lot after two men got into a fight and allegedly chased a car. Landkroon was identified as one of the men and spoke to the officers present. He appeared very drunk, but was cooperative and was not taken into custody, police said.
Then, around 10 p.m., a man believed to be Landkroon approached a dog walker’s car and began banging on his window, scaring him and his 12-year-old daughter. The woman called 111 and said she was worried he was hurting someone. The operator said they would tell police units in the area to keep an eye out for the man.
But officers no longer encountered Landkroon and about 30 minutes later approached Campbell at his campsite. The couple exchanged words before he started attacking her.
According to court documents, a witness, who was seated nearby in a car, said he saw Landkroon punch Campbell about 15 times in the head and upper body before driving away. He returned soon after and continued the assault.
The witness and another person who saw the attack called the police around 10:40 p.m. and Landkroon was arrested. Campbell, who had recently celebrated her 46th birthday, died in the emergency department of Christchurch Hospital shortly after midnight.
When questioned by police, Landkroon admitted to kicking Campbell in the head about 30 times. He was unable to explain why he had attacked her.
Landkroon has a long history with mental health services in Christchurch and other parts of New Zealand, spanning two decades. He was admitted to hospital as an inpatient more than 20 times and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Three of the admissions were in 2021.
At the time of the attack, Landkroon, who had a long criminal history, was receiving voluntary mental health treatment in the Christchurch community. His care was last reviewed at the Hereford Center on January 7, when it was noted he had abused his case manager over the festive season. He indicated that he had not taken his medication reliably, but it was agreed that he could discharge himself. But immediately after the appointment, he called the center and asked to remain a patient there. (It is unclear whether this has been approved.)
After being charged with murder, Landkroon was assessed in prison as having psychotic-like symptoms, consistent with a relapse of schizophrenia, and he was admitted to Te Whare Manaaki, a forensic unit at Hillmorton Hospital.
On October 4, a High Court hearing was held to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.
The court heard Landkroon said he suffered trauma, neglect and deprivation as a child. His parents were very religious, he had struggled in high school and never had a steady job. At the time of his arrest, he was homeless, on welfare, without social support and largely estranged from his family. He had long been addicted to substances such as alcohol, cannabis, synthetic cannabis, stimulants and prescription drugs.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Karen McDonnell said that in her opinion, due to the mental impairment caused by his schizophrenia and his persistent psychotic symptoms, Landkroon would not be able to participate effectively in a trial. He believed people could read his thoughts telepathically, hear voices in his head, and had trouble being in a room with others, McDonnell said. The stressful environment of a courtroom would lead Landkroon to be overwhelmed with anxiety, and he would have difficulty concentrating and differentiating between reality and what “was emanating from his mind”. It would affect her ability to understand the evidence and give proper instructions to her attorney, she said.
Another expert, consultant forensic psychiatrist, Associate Professor James Foulds, provided similar evidence. Both he and McDonnell considered Landkroon unfit to stand trial, which Judge Eaton eventually accepted.
The judge said there was no doubt that Landkroon caused Campbell’s death. “His actions were seen by at least two people, he was positively identified as the attacker and he confessed to police that he repeatedly kicked Ms Campbell.”
On Thursday, Judge Eaton said the attack on Campbell was “completely irrational” and “without motive”.
Both before and after the incident, Landkroon had expressed a desire to take care of her and save her, the judge said.
He had engaged in ‘violent and irrational conduct’ while in hospital and, despite months of treatment, he continued to have psychotic symptoms.
“It is clear that more intensive care is needed to manage the risk of repeated behavior to ensure the protection of the public,” Judge Eaton said in his ruling that Landkroon should be detained as a special patient.
The judge said he understood Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury had conducted or was to conduct an internal investigation into the care Landkroon received before he killed Campbell.
A coroner’s inquest would also explore possible shortcomings.
Campbell’s parents, Lorraine and Brian, attended the October 4 hearing and believe Landkroon, like their daughter, was abandoned by the mental health system.
Given his story, they want to know why he was being treated in the community rather than in a mental hospital.
“He should have been kept for his own good,” said Brian Campbell.
While he and his wife feel some sympathy for the resource-constrained police, they are frustrated that Landkroon was not arrested after the incidents leading up to the attack on their daughter.
“If they had [arrested him], she wouldn’t have died in such a brutal way. Can’t recognize her [at the hospital] still hurts me,” Campbell said.
The couple had not seen Landkroon before the hearing.
“I just kept watching this asshole on the screen (Landkroon appeared via video link during the October 4 hearing) and thought, you bastard,” Lorraine Campbell said.
Although the couple are relieved to not have to go to trial, the outcome has left them hollow and without a sense of justice.
Lorraine Campbell said Landkroon must have known what he was doing when he repeatedly kicked his daughter, walked away, then came back and continued the attack.
“I don’t think he deserves to live. When you take a life… you shouldn’t be here.
Brian Campbell said he found some comfort in the fact that Landkroon would be held in a secure facility, unable to harm anyone else.
Chontelle Delacroix, the dog walker who called police half an hour before Barbara Campbell was attacked, said she felt “awful and guilty” about what had happened.
When the man approached his car, he had hit the window and tried to open the doors, but they were locked.
“He was mad. He had a look of anger on his face like I had never seen before in my life.
In fear, she left.
Delacroix said she wished she had been more forceful with the 111 call taker about the need for officers to find the man.
“A woman was murdered, and it didn’t have to happen. He should have gotten help or been arrested a long time ago.
Christchurch Metropolitan Area Commander Superintendent Lane Todd said officers who witnessed the first incident involving Landkroon on the night before the murder dealt with him “appropriately, based on the information they had at the time”.
Regarding the second incident, the caller said the man fled and police did not have an exact location for him, Todd said.
“Local units were notified of the man and his description and told to keep an eye on him, but he has not been located.”
Todd said Campbell’s death was “extremely tragic and our thoughts continue to be with his family”.
Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury Specialist Mental Health Services Group Director Greg Hamilton said he was unable to comment on the care of individual patients.
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