Jury retires to consider insanity plea
Jury retires to consider insanity plea

A Perth man who bludgeoned his mother and stepfather to death while in the grips of an acute psychotic episode has been found not guilty of their murders on the grounds of insanity.

A Hobart jury deliberated for just over an hour in the Tasmanian Supreme Court today before finding Nicolau Francisco Soares was not criminally responsible for the murders of respected WA academics Del Weston and Gavin Mooney.

The emotions of Mr Soares' half-sister Katherine Weston and brother Alexander Soares spilled over as the verdicts were read to the court.

Ms Weston quietly shed tears and Alexander Soares appeared overwhelmed with relief.

After the verdicts, Justice David Porter ordered psychiatric reports be prepared for the 29-year-old to consider the options for dealing with him under laws dealing with mentally impaired defendants.

Mr Soares, who could be placed on a restriction order or discharged, was remanded in custody until July 18.

During the four-day trial, Mr Soares did not deny using a claw hammer and block buster to inflict catastrophic and fatal head injuries on the couple as they sat down to their evening meal at their isolated Mountain River property in Tasmania on December 18, 2012.

But Mr Soares pleaded not guilty to the two counts of murder on the basis that the symptoms of his schizophrenia deprived him of the capacity to understand what he was doing was wrong.

Uncontested expert psychiatric evidence was presented to the jury that Mr Soares was in the grips of an acute psychotic episode at the time of the deaths.

Tasmanian forensic mental health services clinical director Michael Jordan told the jury yesterday that Mr Soares feared his mother and stepfather were going to make him resume taking anti-psychotic medication and again have him involuntarily committed to psychiatric care.

Dr Jordan said Mr Soares was motivated by the deluded belief that he was going to join the Australian army's special forces unit and feared the actions of Dr Weston and Professor Mooney would jeopardise that goal.

"It was his aim to maim and kill his mother and stepfather as quickly as possible," Dr Jordan told the jury.

But Dr Jordan said in his opinion, it was "beyond doubt" that Mr Soares was incapable of appreciating that his acts were ones that he ought not be doing.

"He was unable to make that call on the difference between right and wrong," he said.

This morning, Tasmanian Supreme Court Justice David Porter told the jury that they should place considerable weight on Dr Jordan's evidence, which had not been challenged by the prosecution.

"You should not reject Dr Jordan's evidence unless the is a good and sound and proper reason to do so," Justice Porter directed the jury.

The West Australian

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