Man found not guilty of murder
VITA TANTRA fled communist East Germany and lived on the Northern Rivers for 25 years before killing Linda Tregerthan in a frenzied knife attack in her Byron Bay home.
Tantra had accused her of ‘identity theft’ by psychic stalking.
The body of Ms Tregerthan, 43, a small, gentle and friendly woman, was found by her 17-year-old daughter in her Shirley Lane house on August 30, 2004.
She had received dozens of knife wounds to her body, along with blunt force trauma to her face and chest, and three fractured ribs.
Following expert psychological reports, Tantra, 52, was yesterday found not guilty of her murder by reason of his severe mental illness under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act.
The decision follows a special sitting of the Supreme Court in Lismore with a judge-alone trial before Justice Robert Allan Hulme.
“I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was the accused who stabbed Ms Tregerthan to death and that he intended to kill her,” Justice Hulme said.
“She was prone on the floor when subjected to what must have been a frenzied attack with a knife ... her attacker positioned on top of her.”
His Honour said eminent psychiatrists concluded that at around and since the time of the murder of Ms Tregerthan, Tantra was the subject of a serious mental illness, suffering from a defect of reason of the mind, that being a paranoid psychotic illness, at the time he caused her death.
Medical opinion found he suffered a chronic mental illness that was untreated for many years prior to the offence.
Justice Hulme found the effect of the symptoms deprived Tantra of the capacity to recognise that his actions were morally wrong, as he held the delusional belief that he had been wronged by Ms Tregerthan and many others, and dep- rived him of the capacity to consider the consequences of his actions.
Tantra (the name he used in Australia) will be detained indefinitely in security at Long Bay Prison Hospital.
His case will be reviewed periodically by the Mental Health Tribunal, and The Northern Star understands he is unlikely to be released.
Tantra accused Ms Tregerthan of practising identity theft, interfering with his life by stealing his male identity and of ‘psychically stalking me for about six months by pretending to be me – by that I mean she behaved like me’.
“It made me really upset. I didn’t like the woman at all and I would try to get out of her way,” Tantra had said.
He also revealed he did go to Ms Tregerthan’s house and punched her ‘a couple of times’ in the face, but denied killing her.