Insanity plea accepted over stabbing

A man stabbed his mother with a kitchen knife last year because he believed he was being controlled by a supernatural spiritual entity which was telling him to kill her, the High Court in Dunedin heard yesterday.

The 35-year-old man was yesterday formally declared to have been insane at the time of the incident and Justice Rachel Dunningham, of Christchurch, made an order for his detention as a special patient.

The man denied wounding the victim with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, counsel Campbell Savage telling the judge insanity was being raised as a defence to the charge.

Mr Savage called two forensic psychiatrists to give evidence in support of their written reports about the man's mental state at the time of the offence and the appropriate way of dealing with the case.

Dr David Bathgate said the man was suffering from a chronic psychotic illness in the form of schizophrenia and believed he was being controlled by a supernatural spiritual entity.

The man believed the entity was controlling his actions through voices and visual hallucinations when he attacked his mother.

The doctor's opinion was the man's mind was so disturbed at the time he did not understand the nature of what he was doing.

Dr David Parker agreed the man was suffering from a chronic schizophrenic illness and that his mind was so affected by the disease at the time of the alleged offence he would not have known what he was doing was morally wrong.

The man would have been so controlled by his psychosis he was incapable of knowing what he was doing, Dr Parker said.

He agreed with Dr Bathgate the man should be detained as a special patient under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act.

Crown counsel Robin Bates said the Crown accepted the doctors' findings about the man's state of mind and agreed the defence of insanity was the appropriate outcome.

As to disposition, the Crown was mindful of the issue of patient safety but believed the case would meet the necessary standards for a detention order, that the man would pose a serious risk to the victim and others.

The summary of facts said the incident happened about 8.15pm on March 13 last year when the man took a 30cm long steel-bladed knife from a kitchen drawer, approached his mother from behind and told her: ''I've got to kill you''.

The victim turned to face her son and saw him holding the knife in his right hand at face level.

He then stabbed her in the right shoulder.

She struggled with him and tried to take the knife from his hand before running into a bedroom and calling the police.

When the officers arrived, the man was waiting at the front door.

He said he had stabbed his mother in the shoulder because he was ''trying to build up the rage to kill her''.

The woman received a 2cm to 3cm long deep cut to her right shoulder and had to have stitches and antibiotics.

After considering the evidence of both psychiatrists, and taking into account the Crown's acceptance of it, Justice Dunningham said she was satisfied the man should be detained as a special patient.

She made a detention order under section 24 (1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act and also ordered ongoing suppression of the names of the man and his mother.