Teenager's strangler on drugs, jury told

·3-min read

A man hugged a distressed friend outside his unit one evening with no idea his 16-year-old brother had just been strangled inside by the person he was consoling.

Chadley Sheridan, 25, is charged with murdering the teenager on March 15, 2021, in Charlestown in the NSW Hunter region.

There is no dispute that Sheridan did kill the schoolboy. The issue for a jury is whether he was suffering from a mental illness at the time, or whether his psychosis was drug-induced.

A few months earlier Sheridan had moved to Newcastle to live with his sister and began work mowing lawns and gardening.

"I thought I had a good one," his former boss told the Supreme Court in Newcastle on Monday.

"Good young kid. He would turn up on time, and did above and beyond."

Jessica gave evidence that for weeks after her brother arrived in January he was doing well, but from late February he started using ice and she kicked him out of home.

The next day on March 14 he drove to Charlestown with his brother to stay with an acquaintance he had not seen in several years.

That man who cannot be named for legal reasons lived with his younger brother who attended a local high school.

The group spent Sunday afternoon drinking Woodstock bourbon cans and the following morning Sheridan called his employer at 6am in a highly distressed state.

That evening the teenager took his medication and went to bed about 9.30pm, while Sheridan was left alone playing a PlayStation.

The older brother returned about 11pm and as he was walking up the front stairs Sheridan phoned him crying.

The crown case is his brother had been killed by this point.

Sheridan was standing outside and said he was upset thinking about his father, and the man hugged and reassured him.

After going back inside the man found his brother lying on the floor of his bedroom at about 12.39pm, and paramedics were called.

Sheridan left but was arrested later that night.

A drug test detected methamphetamines, benzodiazepine, MDMA and methadone in his system.

In a police interview he admitted using a pillow, his hands and a cord from a pedestal fan as weapons.

Earlier he had consumed drugs that made him feel "very different and not himself," and that following previous work in a funeral centre moving dead bodies, he gets "f***ed-up thought patterns".

These thoughts include that he was taking messages from the universe subconsciously and unconsciously.

He said he never formed the opinion that he would kill the boy, that this was "simply created".

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Kerri Eagle is expected to testify that Sheridan was experiencing a drug-induced psychosis after already experiencing one in 2018 following his use of methylamphetamine, or ice and other drugs.

"When he is psychotic he has bizarre delusions, auditory hallucinations, thought disorder and disorganised behaviour," the court was told.

Her opinion is his symptoms substantially reduce when the intoxication wears off, and that there is little evidence of psychosis or functional impairments before using the illicit substance.

The defence case is that Sheridan was already suffering from the early stages of a psychotic illness in 2020.

The trial continues.