Dad thought baby's death 'was justified'

Margaret Scheikowski
·3-min read

A homeless man's hallucinations about killing babies were first recorded 17 years before he tossed his nine-month-old daughter into the Tweed River, a judge has been told

The reports included a hallucination of a man eating a baby, of voices telling him to kidnap and drown a baby, and of his becoming distressed in 2008 thinking he had murdered a child.

The 49-year-old man has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering his daughter whose body was found on the beach at Surfers Paradise in November 2018.

The trial issue involves his mental state, as the defence accepts he did the act which caused his daughter's death.

The father carried her through torrential rain and threw her into the river as his partner and young son sheltered in the Tweed Mall car park.

Currents and tides took the girl 20 kilometres north to the Gold Coast beach where she was found by a teenager attending schoolies.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, forensic psychiatrist professor David Greenberg said he believed the man was suffering from chronic schizophrenia and did not know his act was morally wrong.

At the time he was labouring under a defect of reasons caused by a disease of the mind.

While he stated the baby's death was a "preventable tragedy", Prof Greenberg said mental health workers tried "relentlessly" over the years to keep track of the man but he kept moving as part of his itinerant lifestyle.

The father said he had "sacrificed" his daughter as her upcoming first birthday "would have meant the end of the world".

Prof Greenberg considered voluminous material including medical records related to at least 35 hospital admissions, many referring to his delusional beliefs in relation to infants.

Notes on a 2001 admission recorded auditory hallucinations and delusions telling him to kill a baby, while in 2008 he reported voices taunting him saying he was going to have his own unborn baby killed.

Notes of another admission said he claimed he was Jesus, that he was on a mission to save the world and he believed Britney Spears was his girlfriend.

The psychiatrist was asked about the difference in the father trying to give his daughter away hours before he threw her in the river when he said it was necessary to sacrifice her to save humanity.

Prof Greenberg noted his chronic schizophrenia involved hallucinations, delusions and thought disorder which were exacerbated by his abuse of cannabis and alcohol.

This could have reached another level several hours after the attempt to give her away when he felt justified in his actions as he believed she was corrupt and evil.

Both the father and his mentally ill partner shared delusional beliefs about their daughter, he said.

Due to their homelessness and itinerancy, they had dropped off the radar of the mental healthy system despite workers "relentlessly" trying to keep a track of them and provide help.

Justice Helen Wilson, who heard the trial without a jury, will deliver her verdict and reasons on Wednesday.

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