Mental illness defence open to teen charged with murdering 10 year old cousin.
A teenager charged with murdering her 10-year-old cousin in country NSW has appeared in the Supreme Court for the
This article has been reproduced from news.com.au author Lane Sainty@lanesainty
A teenager charged with murdering her 10-year-old cousin will likely argue at trial she is not guilty by reason of mental illness, a court has been told.
Her lawyer flagged the potential defence at the girl’s first appearance before the NSW Supreme Court on Friday as Justice Robert Hulme said the delay in the case getting to trial was “extremely undesirable”.
The girl, who cannot be identified, was 14 when she was charged with murder in July 2020 over the death of her younger cousin at a property in Gunnedah, NSW.
She has pleaded not guilty.
The teenager was arrested on a neighbouring property after her mother arrived at the farmhouse and found the 10-year-old.
Her lawyer Stuart Bouveng told the court the “actus reus” — meaning the physical acts relating to the alleged murder — was not in dispute.
“The real issue here is either, I’m still using the old terms, NGMI (not guilty by reason of mental illness) and/or substantial impairment,” he said.
Police and SES searched the rural property in the wake of the alleged murder. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Experts on both sides of the case had concluded the defences were available to the teenager, Mr Bouveng said.
The girl watched the proceedings over audiovisual link from a juvenile justice facility, where she sat at a table wearing a white buttoned shirt.
She only spoke to answer “yes” when Justice Robert Hulme asked if she could hear the proceedings.
Mr Bouveng is seeking a judge-alone trial for the teenager and said he believed it could be done in two or three days if the request was granted.
Prosecutor David Scully said the crown needed more time to respond to the judge-alone application and also to discuss the issues at trial and witnesses required with the defence.
Justice Hulme said the matter “cries out for expedition”, noting the girl was arrested in July 2020.
“That’s 14 months for the case to arrive in this court, which in the case of a juvenile is extremely undesirable to say the least,” he said.
The trial would usually be held in Tamworth due to the location of the alleged murder, but Mr Scully said there was no need for it to be held there if an earlier trial date was possible elsewhere.
No witnesses from that area, other than potentially a police officer, were expected to testify, the court was told.
The matter returns to court on September 10.