Voices said man’s brother was ‘devil’

An Invercargill father called mental health services 40 times in the weeks before his son killed his stepson.

Yesterday, at a High Court hearing in Invercargill, Joseph Kevin Boyle was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the death of his stepbrother, 19-year-old James Clark.

In his decision, Justice Gerald Nation said both Mr Clark and Boyle were victims.

Boyle killed Mr Clark on December 8 by hitting him with a mallet and cutting him with a knife.

He then beheaded him postmortem.

The killing took place between when Mr Clark sent a Facebook message at 8.31pm and when Boyle called police at 8.39pm on December 8.

Later, while in custody after the killing, Boyle assaulted his lawyer, assaulted other custodial staff and removed his own eyeball using his finger and a pencil.

Reports completed by a psychologist and two psychiatrists after Mr Clark’s death, outlined Boyle’s medical history.

Boyle had been in the care of mental health services since 2010.

In 2012 he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after presenting with grandiose delusions which he had acted upon.

He was prescribed lithium and remained stable until 2015 when he had a further psychotic relapse, Justice Nation said.

In December 2016, Boyle was readmitted to psychiatric care and was discharged after six days.

In January 2017, a court order had him assessed again after he had paranoid concerns including believing his father was killing him.

He was mentally stable in 2017 and 2018, however he was not engaging with his mental health team, Justice Nation said.

In October 2019, Boyle’s father again contacted his son’s treatment team with concerns his son was not taking his lithium medication.

His father was again concerned in late November 2019, when he saw his son going from normal to aggressive.

‘‘It was reported in the month before 8 December 2019 he [Boyle’s father] had made some 40 phone calls to mental health providers to get Mr Boyle medically reviewed.’’

However Justice Nation said reports showed Boyle was guarded about his mental health difficulties and was adept at hiding his auditory and visual hallucinations.

It was not until after killing his stepbrother that Boyle was diagnosed as either being schizophrenic or suffering from a schizo affected disorder.

It wasn’t until Dr Justin Barry-Walsh interviewed Boyle between April and May this year Boyle revealed how the voices he was hearing led him to kill his stepbrother.

He told the doctor his stepbrother’s death ‘‘was all down to the voices’’ which he had heard for three days. Those same voices told him if he didn’t kill his stepbrother, his stepbrother would kill him.

‘‘I thought my brother was the devil because of the voices,’’ Justice Nation read out.

Despite this acknowledgement, Boyle continued to deny it was he who had murdered his brother, he believed he had to kill him in order to release him.

‘‘Mr Boyle believed his actions were morally correct.’’

Justice Nation told Boyle’s and Mr Clark’s family, who were in court yesterday, he was conscious of how the ‘‘tragedy must have devastated them’’.

He said Boyle’s father had done all he could to try to get help for his son and said the community should be sympathetic for what the family had been through.

Justice Nation ordered Boyle be detained indefinitely as a special care patient in a hospital until the Ministry of Health was satisfied he was no longer a danger to the public.

karen.pasco@odt.co.nz

 

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