Our client is a 39-year-old computer consultant and family man from Sydney’s western suburbs.
The family’s sleeping arrangements were that our client would sleep in a bedroom with his 7-year-old daughter, while his wife slept in another bedroom with their 4-month-old daughter.
It was not in dispute that on the day in question, our client and his daughter had been asleep when our client awoke and put his hands around his daughter’s throat and squeezed, preventing her from breathing. The child was eventually able to scream for her mother, who came to the room and rescued her.
Police were called and our client said, “I just tried to murder my daughter”. They asked “what do you mean by murder?”, to which he replied “I tried to kill her”. He further admitted trying to strangle her to death.
His wife told police he may be suffering from schizophrenia.
Police charged our client with three offences, the most serious of which was ‘intent to murder’, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.
The law states that a person is not guilty of a crime if they were “labouring a defect of reason”, such as suffering from auditory hallucinations and delusional beliefs which caused them to be unaware that their actions were wrong. This is often referred to as the ‘McNaughton defence’.
We referred our client to a prominent psychiatrist who confirmed the diagnosis of schizophrenia, and a number of matters relevant to his defence.
We requested withdrawal of all three charges on that basis, but the DPP refused to withdraw all of them, and the matter proceeded to a judge-alone trial in Downing Centre District Court.
Many criminal law firms brief ‘wig and gown’ barristers when serious cases are set-down for trial, but we are often able to avoid this due to the vast courtroom experience of our specialist lawyers – all of whom are Senior Lawyers with years of criminal defence experience. Our firm’s ability to independently represent clients to a very high standard in extremely serious cases sets us apart from many other law firms, and can save clients vast amounts in legal costs.
Our Senior Managing Lawyer conducted the trial independently, and our client was found not guilty of all charges.
After a person is acquitted due to mental illness, the judge must then decide whether they should be detained in a prison hospital, mental health facility hospital, or released with or without conditions.
Our senior lawyer was able to convince the judge that our client should be released on condition that he comply with a mental health treatment plan involving prescribed medication and regular consultations with his psychiatrist and psychologist. He is now getting the help he desperately needs, while attempting to mend his family relationship and move forward with his life.