Christopher Healey: Axeman who stalked then attacked Dr Anna Chaney jailed for 23 years

Tim Clarke
The West Australian
4 Min Read
Dr Anna Chaney — the sister of federal MP Kate — was stalked and attacked.
Dr Anna Chaney — the sister of federal MP Kate — was stalked and attacked. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

An obsessed loner stalked a doctor who had tried to help him for years – before tricking his way into her surgery and trying to murder her with an axe as a pregnant patient tried to fight him off has been sentenced to 23 years in jail.

Christopher Healey had at first stated his love for Dr Anna Chaney — the sister of federal MP Kate — before developing a hateful infatuation when she reported his increasingly disturbing behaviour.

That nightmare began in March 2020, when Healey began sending disgusting messages to the doctor who had treated him at an outreach surgery for the homeless and disadvantaged.

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As the COVID pandemic was beginning, he sent her a box of toilet paper and then a gift basket.

And he continued to pursue her through overtly sexual messages and by contacting her family using false names online.

The surgery eventually told Healey he was banned from coming back because of the behaviour.

WA’s Supreme Court was told that left him “enraged and bitter” — anger which festered until last September when it exploded into shocking violence.

In between, he told Dr Chaney’s husband he was going to kill himself.

Despite a restraining order being put in place, Healey continued his stalking campaign, which included a false complaint to medical authorities.

“She did me a grave injustice … I have been more than angry at her for 26 months now,” he said in one message.

“Everything I have is centred on the anger I have towards Anna”.

Contact seemed to cease in August 2022. But in fact, Healey’s obsession continued.

Handwritten notes found by police detailed his intention to murder her more than a year before he actually tried.

Having bought an icepick, a dagger, a knife and an axe, Healey then put his intense internet research into practice, going to Dr Chaney’’s new workplace at North Perth as reconnaissance.

She had moved to a secure practise because of her fear of Healey.

But on the morning of September 28 last year, he lied through the surgery intercom, saying he had been sent by an anxious friend.

In fact, he was carrying the 90cm axe in a cardboard sleeve. Once inside, he spotted Dr. Chaney and followed her into a consulting room, where she was with a patient who was 12 weeks pregnant.

Healey swung the axe towards the doctor, slicing a 6cm wound in her stomach. He tried twice more to strike her with the axe as Dr Chaney and the pregnant patient attempted to fight him off — actions which the court heard were “extremely courageous”.

And as other doctors and patients fled in fear, another doctor at the surgery managed to disarm Healey and hold him while police raced to the scene.

“(He had) a settled and deliberate disdain for the life of the victim and those close to her,” prosecutor Ben Stanwix said.

“What is particularly frightening about that (is that it was) unprovoked, and yet somehow motivated by a desire for revenge.

“Instead, the victim was entirely blameless and had shown him nothing but kindness. He became fixated on something purely imaginary.

“A man not getting what he wanted from a woman — and as a consequence, she had to die.”

Dr Anna Chaney
Dr Anna Chaney sustained a 6cm wound in her stomach during the terrifying attack. Credit: Linkedin/Linkedin

Defence lawyer Edward Fitzpatrick admitted that while Healey now had shown some regret for his actions, he also retained his view that he was “morally justified” for what he did.

In some of the diary entries Healey wrote in the build-up to the attack, he said that deciding to kill Dr Chaney had become “the most important thing” and “seemed like a positive release”.

“She was my doctor — she deserves her fate. I don’t care what happens to me,” Healey said.

Judge Natalie Whitby said that Healey had “developed an all-consuming bitterness” — and somehow blamed Dr Chaney for ruining his life. Instead, she said, it was her life that was overtaken by fear and anxiety.

She also revealed that Healey had previously been jailed in Israel after plunging a knife into the neck of a woman who had rejected him.

“The extent of pre-meditation was significant and extremely disturbing — your extensively planned to kill her with a complete disregard for her life and the lives of those close to her,” Judge Whitby said.

“You chose to attack in a public place where others were nearby — your attack terrified every person who was in the building that day.

“You were armed with an axe; you took them by surprise. A sustained effort to kill Dr Chaney. It is difficult to describe how heinous and disgusting your behaviour was.”

She jailed Healey for a total of 23 years, saying a “clear message must be sent to men who engage in violence against women”.

Following the sentencing, Dr Chaney said she had been through a “horrific ordeal”

“It has had a big impact on my life and those around me,” she said in a statement released to The West Australian.

“I want to thank the police, prosecutors and my colleagues, friends and family for the support I have received during this stressful time.

“After seeing many women who have survived violence through my medical career, this has again reinforced the urgent need for a whole of community approach to addressing gendered violence.

“Women should be able to feel safe, whether at home, at work or in the community.”

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