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Vic gunman plotted stabbing for years

AAP logoAAP 15/09/2016 Genevieve Gannon

The gunman who fatally opened fire in a Monash university tutorial in 2002 appeared to be responding well to the treatment he was undergoing at Victoria's high-security psychiatric facility.

But only because he was hiding his delusional beliefs.

Huan Yan Xiang, 50, had for three years been plotting an attack against a hospital staff member he believed was being paid by either the Chinese of US government to prevent him having unsupervised leave.

On October 21 last year, he took a kitchen knife to a meeting with her, and stabbed her once in the neck and twice in the hand.

Other staff members heard the woman scream and came to her aid to find Xiang chasing her around a desk.

The staff member - who cannot be named for legal reasons - has not been able to return to work at the facility, having developed post traumatic stress disorder.

When Xiang attacked her, she thought she was going to die.

Xiang had in 2004 been ordered to remain under supervision at the Thomas Embling forensic hospital after he was found not guilty of two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder due to mental impairment.

He was armed with five loaded handguns when he started shooting in the middle of a class in 2002, instantly killing students William Wu and Steven Chan, both 26, and injuring five others.

After he was shifted from prison to the forensic hospital, psychologists noted Xiang appeared to be progressing in his treatment.

By 2015 he had been moved to the hospital's Jardine unit, an independent living, low security mixed-gender unit.

He wanted to be granted more leave and he believed that the staff member was standing in his way.

Dr Yvonne Skinner, who diagnosed Xiang with chronic paranoid schizophrenia after assessing him earlier this year, said he understood what he was doing, but not that it was wrong.

"It seems he has long held delusional believes that others were not to be trusted or were conspiring against him," Dr Skinner said.

However, he knew enough to hide his plans from those around him.

"He didn't tell anyone because he knew they might reduce his leave.

"He thought of different ways he might be able to act to increase his leave privileges."

Xiang was on Thursday found not guilty of one count of recklessly causing serious injury by reason of mental impairment.

The Victorian Supreme Court heard Xiang's psychosis was partially resistant to treatment, as he had been taking anti-psychotic medication when he attacked the staff member last year.

"(He thought) she might have been being paid by someone else to thwart his efforts to have more leave," Dr Skinner said.

Two reports will be prepared before Justice Jane Dixon orders a new supervision period for Xiang.

He will return to court in December.

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact the Depression Helpline (from 8am to midnight) on 0800 111 757 and Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au.

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