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Antonie Ronnie DIXON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Severed the hands or arms of two women with a Samurai sword
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 21, 2003
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: James Te Aute
Method of murder: Shooting (home-made sub-machine gun)
Location: Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with 20 years' minimum non-parole in 2005.  Died apparently of self-inflicted injuries in his cell at Auckland Prison on February 4, 2009

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Antonie Ronnie "Tony" Dixon (1968 – 4 February 2009) was a convicted New Zealand thief and murderer. His most notorious crimes were committed in an 11-hour spree of violence in 2003 in which he completely or partially severed the hands or arms of two women with a Samurai sword, shot a man dead with a sub-machine gun and kidnapped another man. He later beat and attempted to gouge the eye of a fellow prison inmate and pulled a weapon on his own lawyer. He died in prison of apparently self-inflicted injuries.

Early life

Dixon suffered horrendous abuse as a child, according to evidence given at his 2007 Appeal Court hearing. It was reported that he had been frequently tied to a clothesline, sexually abused, could only bark like a dog, and showed paranoid behaviour over several years.

Dixon acquired over 150 convictions, mostly for theft and burglary, and was imprisoned at least 14 times. He used the drug methamphetamine, known in New Zealand as "P", from at least 2001.

Major violent crimes

Dixon attacked two of his friends, Renee Gunbie and Simonne Butler, with a Samurai sword at Pipiroa on 21 January 2003. Before the sword broke, Gunbie's left hand was completely severed and both of Butler's arms were partially severed.

After stealing a vehicle and travelling to Auckland, Dixon fatally shot James Te Aute in Highland Park with a burst of ten bullets from a home-made sub-machine gun. He then took a man hostage and engaged in a stand-off with the police. Eleven hours after he started, Dixon surrendered to the New Zealand Police. He used methamphetamine throughout the episode. Renee Gunbie lost her left hand; Simonne Butler's arms were both reattached.


During his trial, Dixon advanced a defence based primarily on insanity. Throughout much of the trial he bore a wild, wide-eyed look and an odd haircut, and photographs of this appearance featured in leading newspapers around the country. At the conclusion of the trial, he was convicted of murder, wounding, kidnapping, shooting at police and aggravated burglary, but acquitted on five charges of attempted murder. For the murder, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with 20 years' minimum non-parole.

He appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal of New Zealand with several arguments. Firstly, it was argued that the trial judge, Judith Potter, did not properly instruct the jury on the law relating to insanity. Secondly, it was argued that manslaughter should have been available to the jury as an alternative verdict to murder. On 7 September 2007 the Court of Appeal overturned Dixon's convictions and ordered a new trial.

The retrial began in June 2008 and concluded with a second guilty verdict on 30 July 2008. Dixon was remanded in custody pending a sentencing hearing set down for 5 February 2009. Dixon was reported to have made it known that he intended to appeal the outcome of this second trial as well.

A cousin of Dixon's was later jailed for attempting to bribe a juror during Dixon's second trial.

Crimes in prison

In December 2007, whilst awaiting retrial, Dixon badly beat and attempted to gouge the eye of a fellow inmate in Auckland Central Remand Prison with a fork.

On 17 January 2009, during a prison interview, Dixon attempted to pull a "makeshift weapon" on his lawyer; Barry Hart. Prison staff intervened quickly to subdue Dixon and avoid any injury to Hart. Corrections Minister Judith Collins was informed of the incident and ordered a full report. She also encouraged Hart to lay a complaint with police. Hart chose not to lay a formal complaint as he felt that his client was suffering from severe mental health issues. On National Radio on the afternoon of 4 February, Hart denied that an attack had happened at all, refusing to speak further about it with the interviewer.


At 10.30pm on 4 February 2009, the night before his scheduled re-sentencing, Dixon was found dead in his cell at Auckland Prison. It was reported the next morning that he had apparently died of self-inflicted injuries.

Dixon in popular culture

Due to the nature of the crimes and the prominence of the trial, images of Dixon took root in the public psyche. Some aspects of the crime, such as Gumbie's severed hand giving the bird, or the use of the home-made sub-machine gun and claims of being followed by 747s, were viewed as humorous.

During the trial, Dixon's facial expressions and haircut became a source of amusement for many. On the television program Eating Media Lunch, cast members could be seen wearing T-Shirts with an unflattering portrait of Dixon's face printed on them.

On an episode of Bro'town Vale Pepelo described "upside-down b" (a euphemism for P) as "that highly addictive drug that makes you cut off peoples hands!" a reference to the Dixon case. Dejavoodoo referenced the case in their song P with the lyrics "I smoked P and I didn't cut anybody's hands off".

Craccum, the Auckland University Student's association magazine, recently referenced Antonie Ronnie Dixon as well in Issue 9, 2007. They referred to Dixon's haircut as "The most popular haircut in West Auckland since the mullet." Dixon has been immortalized in song by Lower Hutt Grindcore band Backyard Burial in a whimsical number called You're not getting your hand back.


Killer Antonie Dixon dies in prison

February 5, 2009

Samurai sword attacker and convicted killer Antonie Dixon, who died in prison this morning, was seen by a psychiatrist just hours before his death.

Dixon died in Paremoremo Prison in the early morning. He was due in court this morning.

A prison source told NZPA Dixon had suffered head and neck injuries.

His lawyer Barry Hart told of his growing concern for Dixon’s state of mental health, particularly following an attack by Dixon on Mr Hart. Dixon had pulled a "makeshift weapon" on Mr Hart last month.

Mr Hart arrange for a psychiatrist from the Mason Clinic to assess him yesterday. The psychiatrist confirmed to Mr Hart at 5pm last night that Dixon was mentally unwell but believed that Paremoremo had the facilities to care for Dixon. 

The next call Mr Hart took was at 6am today, advising him Dixon was dead.

Mr Hart says the Corrections Department "stuffed up".

Mr Hart said his client had refused to take his medication and had been beaten up several times by inmates.

He believed his client should have been put into a psychiatric unit, not a prison cell, he told Newstalk ZB.

Dixon was due to appear for sentencing this morning, however arrangements had already been made to have sentencing adjourned until February 20 so his sister, who lives overseas, could attend.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Leanne Field said prison staff who discovered Dixon had tried to provide medical assistance but were unable to revive him.
"He was pronounced dead by ambulance staff when they arrived at the prison.

"The Department is now undertaking an initial investigation to determine what happened," she said.

Ms Field said the death would be investigated by the prison authorities.

A coroner's investigation, assisted by the police, would be conducted ahead of an inquest to determine the cause of death, she said.

Dixon, 40, attacked Simonne Butler and Renee Gunbie with a samurai sword in Pipiroa near Thames on January 22, 2003, and murdered James Te Aute in Auckland the same night. He was high on the drug P.

In 2005, Dixon was convicted of charges, including murder, kidnapping and using a firearm against a police officer.

His defence had been that he was insane when he attacked Butler and Gunbie before driving to Auckland where he shot dead Te Aute with 10 bullets in his back. He took a hostage before giving himself up to police after a standoff.

However, the insanity defence was was always challenged by police who called Dixon a "gold-plated psychopath". Prosecutors accepted Dixon had a severe personality disorder and suffered from paranoia but maintained he knew what he was doing when he committed the crimes while under the influence of methamphetamines.

In Pipiroa, Dixon's increasing paranoia had exploded into rage when he hacked at Gunbie and ex-girlfriend Butler with a samurai sword - slashing at them until their hands were severed. The chopping stopped only because the sword broke.

It took a team of surgeons 27 hours to delicately reattach Butler's hands but Gunbie's hand couldn't be saved and she's lucky to be alive.

The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions in 2007, ruling the judge had erred in the summing-up of the case. In August last year, after a second jury trial, Dixon was again found guilty on the eight charges he faced.

His death comes just weeks after another prison incident involving Dixon. The Sunday News reported that Dixon had pulled a "makeshift weapon" on his own lawyer - Barry Hart - during a meeting at Auckland Central Remand Prison on January 17.

"Staff supervising the meeting between the prisoner and his lawyer saw the prisoner get agitated, and attempt to remove what they believed to be a makeshift weapon from his shoe," a Corrections spokeswoman said at the time.

Mr Hart told the Sunday News that "[Dixon] has some major mental issues at the moment"."The issues have deteriorated," he said.

The drama was the second time Dixon was reported to be involved in an incident with a weapon inside prison. In December, 2007, Dixon used a fork to try to gouge out the eye of another prisoner, who required hospitalisation. 

Justice Hugh Williams said he had received a letter from Dixon saying he had dispensed with Mr Hart's services and queried whether a new lawyer needed to be appointed.

Mr Hart said Dixon had dispensed with his services on a number of occasions.

"Everytime he got unwell, he had trust issues."

He said the system had let Dixon down badly. When asked if his death was a stuff by corrections department, Mr Hart said "Well it has to be".

Dixon had been jailed at least 14 times and had almost 160 prior convictions - predominately for theft and burglary.

During the 2007 Appeal Court hearing, Hart said Dixon had suffered a horrendous upbringing. As a child he was tied to a clothesline, could only bark like a dog, and showed paranoid behaviour over several years.


I'll go down in a blaze of glory: accused

The New Zealand Herald

Tuesday February 08, 2005

A man accused of cutting off the hands of two women with a samurai sword told police he wanted "to go down in a blaze of glory".

Antonie Ronnie Dixon, 34, who is accused of attacking Renee Gunbie and Simonne Butler with the sword at Pipiroa, before shooting a young man dead with a sub-machinegun in January 2003, appeared in the High Court at Auckland yesterday on the first day of a six-week trial.

Crown Solicitor Simon Moore said Dixon had told police before handing himself in that "everyone will be taking notice of me now ... Aramoana will be a walk in the park compared to this ... I'll go down in a blaze of glory".

Dixon has pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including murder and attempted murder.

Throughout his alleged crime spree, he used the drug pure methamphetamine, commonly known as P.

In his opening address yesterday, Mr Moore took the jury through what he described as "an extraordinary trail of death and destruction" that began at Pipiroa on the Hauraki Plains and ended in the hills of East Tamaki.

It started at Dixon's home, a converted shed at Pipiroa, on the afternoon of January 21, 2003.

Ms Butler arrived and was brutally attacked with the sword, along with Ms Gunbie.

Both women lived with Dixon.

Ms Butler's hand, cut off in the attack, was later reattached by surgeons. But Ms Gunbie's hand, left on the shed table with one finger protruding, could not be reattached.

Mr Moore said Dixon was "ranting and raving" while the women screamed in pain with "cries of mercy" as he slashed them with the sword, which broke because of the force he used.

Dixon had accused Ms Butler of sleeping with a police officer and Ms Gunbie of being a drug dealer-turned-police informant.

He and another man (who has name suppression) called for an ambulance.

Mr Moore then explained how Dixon and the other man drove to Hamilton, where Dixon stole a car.

Dixon drove north at speed by himself, tailgating one motorist and stopping at various petrol stations and threatening people.

In one case he told a cleaner, "You are a good worker doing your job. If you want to live, go now".

Dixon arrived at Highland Park about midnight and shot James Te Aute, 25, in a carpark with a sub-machinegun, Mr Moore said.

The young man had been there with his friends and confronted Dixon about his strange behaviour.

Dixon reacted by firing the bullets into Mr Te Aute's back.

Before the shooting he had rung the police 111 centre and asked to speak to one of two detectives.

He later told a detective that he wanted to die in an armed offenders squad shoot-out and how the case was "another Aramoana".

In 1990, David Gray went on a shooting rampage at the tiny Otago settlement of Aramoana, killing 13 people before being fatally shot by police.

For several hours after the Highland Park shooting, Dixon drove dangerously round Manukau, firing bullets, including some at a police officer, and brandishing the gun, said Mr Moore.

As this was happening, police were in full force in the area and at one stage Dixon returned to the murder scene, where a police officer was interviewing a witness.

The drama ended early on the Wednesday morning when Dixon drove down a road in East Tamaki and started banging on the windows of homes, telling residents he was about to have "a shoot-out" with police.

He allegedly kidnapped a resident at one house, but the person spoke to him calmly and was able to walk away from Dixon, who was no longer aggressive and who broke down in tears.

Mr Moore said a police negotiator spoke to Dixon for some time and he finally came out of the house and lay on the lawn, where he was arrested.

The charges

Attempted murder of Renee Joy Gunbie, with the alternative charge of intending to cause her grievous bodily harm.

Attempted murder of Simonne Rachel Butler, with the alternative charge of intending to cause her grievous bodily harm.

Murder of James Te Aute.

Attempted murder of a man who has name suppression, with the alternative charge of discharging a firearm with intent.

Using a firearm against Eugene Gage, a member of the police.

Attempted murder of David Templeton, with the alternative charge of discharging a firearm with intent.

Aggravated burglary.

Kidnapping of Ian Miller.


20 years for samurai sword killer

The New Zealand Herald

Friday May 27, 2005

Convicted murderer and samurai swordsman, Antonie Ronnie Dixon has been jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years.

Dixon was called a "cold-blooded and utterly callous" killer by Justice Judith Potter passing sentence in the High Court at Auckland this morning.

Dixon was found guilty by a jury in March of murdering Auckland man, James Te Aute with a home made machinegun, and using a samurai sword to wound Simonne Butler and Renee Gunbie in Pipiroa near Thames on the Hauraki Plains in January, 2003.

The jury decided he was not guilty of trying to murder the two women.

He was also found guilty of shooting at police, kidnapping and aggravated burglary.

The jury rejected his defence that he was insane and did not know his actions were morally wrong.

Crown prosecutor Simon Moore said Dixon was on a P-fuelled crime spree and knew exactly what he was doing every step of the way.

He said the convictions sent a strong message that methamphetamine did not equate to criminal insanity.

Her said it was probably the first big trial where P had been involved and the judge had said the consumption of P on its own, even if it might induce a psychosis, was not enough to amount to insanity under the Crimes Act.

After the convictions Detective Inspector Bernie Hollewand, who led the inquiry, said P was "just another intoxicant and people are going to be held accountable for their actions whether or not they are using P".

Dixon, 37, looked relatively relaxed as he entered the court with three security guards.

The wild, wide-eyed look he displayed throughout much of his trial was missing and he smiled at a person in the public gallery as he entered the dock.

During his submissions Mr Moore said there was a high level of violence and premeditation through the attacks and the killing of James Te Aute was a way of attracting police attention.

"It was a device and Mr Te Aute provided the focus for that device."

Mr Moore said it was difficult to imagine a more calculated or callous killing "where the identity of the target was of no relevance at all" to Dixon.

Mr Te Aute was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he said.

There was no mitigating feature, and no hint of remorse. Dixon had said he was thoroughly justified in what he did.

Mr Moore said it was truly an execution-style killing.

He said a minimum non-parole period of 20 years was appropriate at which point Dixon interrupted from the dock.

"Bring back the electric chair," he said and applauded.

For Dixon, Barry Hart said even though the jury found him not insane he had more than personality problems.

"It's a mental disorder.

"I am surprised the Crown can't give at least some recognition to the mental problems this man has had.

"Your honour ought to give substantial weight to his mental problem," Mr Hart told Justice Potter.



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