In this case an accused was arrested for an alleged aggravated sexual assault that occured in a park in Doonside. This particular accused had a history of an underlying mental illness of schitzophrenia, suffering from auditory hallucinations, delusions of reference and bizarre delusional beliefs.
The accused was released from a psychiatric Hospital for a trial period where he was admitted as an involuntary patient receiving treatment for an acute episode of mental illness. The incident took place 3 days after his release. He reported taking methylamphetamine, commonly known as the street drug ‘ice’ or “crystal meth’ and had not slept since his discharge exacerbating his underlying schitzophrenic condition. He reported several psychotic episodes and symptoms and subpoenaed material in the case evidenced a history of mental illness.
A not guilty by way of mental illness plea was entered.
The matter proceeded to Trial by way of a Judge Alone where two leading forensic psychiatrists disagreed as to the availability of a not guilty by way of mental illness defence. Dr Olav Nielssen for the accused formed the view that the defence was available to the accused. The proximity of the offence to the recent severe episodes of mental illness and protracted admissions to hospital supported his account of having very disorganised and confused thinking, which the doctor opined prevented him from reasoning with sense and composure about the moral wrongfulness of his actions, or being able to control his behaviour.
Dr Stephen Allnutt for the Crown gave evidence that despite the accused’s mental illness, at the time of the offence, he was able to understand what he was doing was morally and legally wrong.
The Judge found the accused Not Guilty by way of Mental Illness.