Man killed wife for alleged affair

AN ELDERLY Northern Rivers man, who can’t be identified under the Mental Health Act, has appeared before a special Supreme Court hearing in Lismore this week.

Under the Act, he has taken a plea of not guilty. He is charged with the stabbing murder of his wife in 2008.

The man, who had delusions about his wife’s infidelity, was last year deemed to be unfit to face a murder trial by reason of his mental health.

He is charged with murdering his wife at their neat suburban home.

Police were called to the home following a triple-0 phone call in which he said, ‘I’ve just killed my wife’, later saying she had ‘been playing up’.

Looking frail, the wheelchair-bound grandfather appeared before Justice Peter Hall on Wednesday via audio video-link from Long Bay Prison where he is a hospital inmate.

As a dozen family members watched from the public gallery in a Lismore courtroom, Justice Hall received final submissions from both the Crown and public defender Chris Bruce.

Justice Hall said under the Mental Health Forensic Provisions Act, the man was taken to have pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

Crown documents tendered included psychiatric and medical reports about his state of mind at the time.

The Crown said there was no question that at the time the man intended to kill his wife because of his ‘delusional’ belief that she was having an affair with a neighbour.

Justice Hall noted there had been diagnosed vascular dementia relating to the man’s delusions, with the Crown replying that medical opinion was that by 2005 the elderly man’s problems would qualify as ‘a disease of the mind’.

This disease would have deprived him of reasoning that he should not commit murder.

In a statement before the hearing, a nurse said when the man arrived at Accident and Emergency at Lismore Base Hospital on October 2, it was clear ‘he did not understand the seriousness of his actions and that at the time gave no indication of sorrow or remorse’.

The Crown said a clinical opinion by an occupational therapist and psychologist in December last year was that the man suffers a psychotic disorder/delusion of the jealous type.

If untreated, the report found, his condition would deteriorate with the man being a risk to himself and to others.

Mr Bruce said his client admitted he had intended to kill his wife.

Mr Bruce said it might be difficult for the community (to grasp) but the doctors were not saying the man killed his wife only because of jealousy but that this jealousy was based on delusional beliefs.

Mr Bruce said a report details the man’s belief that his elderly wife was being unfaithful despite having no evidence of that. He believed his wife was meeting a neighbour when going out to the garbage bin.

He also believed the ‘other man’ swapped clothes with his that did not fit him, and he also believed the ‘other man’ had sneaked into the house to put castor oil in his food and cause him diahhorea.

Mr Bruce said the man in 2006 also (wrongly) thought his wife was trying to poison him, which was all consistent with his delusional beliefs.

“It was more than mere jealousy. It was (based on delusion),” he said.

“Indicative of being a psychotic disorder,” Justice Hall replied.

Justice Hall said he would reserve his judgment until March 12.

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