Anderson's mum hugs killer after verdict

By Margaret Scheikowski
·3-min read

Liam Anderson was no demon, just a loyal friend trying to look after his drug-affected mate.

And his mother Lindy Anderson showed the same generosity of spirit when she hugged and forgave her son's killer after he was acquitted of murder.

Mathew Flame who believed his best friend was a demon when he bashed him to death, was instead found guilty of the less serious charge of manslaughter.

The apprentice plumber who was high on ecstasy at the time, pleaded not guilty by reason of mental impairment to murdering Mr Anderson, the 20-year-old son of Angry Anderson, singer with hard rock band Rose Tattoo.

The now 22-year-old Flame repeatedly stomped on Mr Anderson shortly after sunrise on November 4, 2018, in a Queenscliff park on Sydney's northern beaches.

The prosecution contended Flame was psychotic at the time due to his voluntary use of drugs including ecstasy, while the defence said he was labouring under the severe mental illness of schizophrenia.

As well as considering the full defence of mental impairment, the NSW Supreme Court jury was given directions about the partial defence of "substantial impairment" which can reduce murder to manslaughter.

After the verdicts were delivered on Thursday, Ms Anderson hugged Flame in the dock and tearfully told reporters there were no winners and she had forgiven him.

Outside court, Flame's lawyer Leonie Gittani said her client was "very much" touched by the hug from his dead friend's mother.

She said he was feeling a bit emotional but had a sense of relief at the verdicts.

"It's been a tough journey for him and a tough journey for everyone," she said.

Flame and Mr Anderson - a rapper known as Ranford Bigsby - had been partying on the night with a group of friends, attending two hotels and two homes.

Nadia Khalil testified they came to her Queenscliff unit around 4am and initially Flame - who had taken ecstasy - was "very hyped, very excited" after the mates had a good night out partying.

But Flame's demeanour changed - he became "very closed off", was quite hot and flushed, began to take off some clothes and walked outside, followed by her and Mr Anderson.

"We were worried about him because he was not in a good head space to be out on the street by himself," she said.

She begged Flame to come inside and also asked "Bigsby" to come in.

But Mr Anderson said "he's my best friend, I would never leave my best friend".

A tourist testified to seeing a man kicking his victim on the ground in the park, repeatedly stomping on his bloodied head.

"The blows were so severe I thought they would be fatal," Trevor Burchett said.

When he yelled "what are you doing"? the attacker took one step back and started to look at him but didn't say anything.

""The male's eyes were wide open with no expression on his face," he said.

After his arrest, Flame rambled to police about Satan and was generally incoherent before later being able to answer questions.

He said "I was possessed last night", saying he became convinced his friend was "evil" and out to kill him.

"When I was attacking him, it was like he was a demon and I was an angel."

A crown forensic psychiatrist said in his opinion Flame was in a drug-induced psychosis and did not have a disease of the mind when he attacked his mate.

While he believes Flame now qualifies for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he said such a disorder developed more than seven weeks after he was taken into custody.

But the defence psychiatrists thought he had the underlying condition of schizophrenia at the time of the killing, noting he had subsequent psychotic episodes of a similar nature while on remand.

Flame will face a sentence hearing before Justice Richard Button on December 8.