N.L. man not criminally responsible in soccer stabbing
Judge rules Nicholas Layman sick with uncontrolled psychosis at time of attack
“Get that kid.” Those were the words of a schizophrenic “command voice” so powerful that Nicholas Layman cannot be convicted in the stabbing of an 11-year-old boy on a Newfoundland soccer field, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Layman heard the phantom instruction moments before plunging a 25-centimetre blade into the boy’s neck and chest, Judge Colin Flynn read from his decision in provincial court.
He found that Layman, now 21, was so sick with uncontrolled psychosis on Sept. 25, 2014 that he cannot be held criminally responsible.
“Mr. Layman was suffering from a mental disorder to such an extent that he was unable to understand that what he did was morally wrong. As a result, I find that Mr. Layman is not guilty of the offences on account of mental disorder pursuant to S. 16 of the Criminal Code of Canada,” said Flynn.
The attack happened during an evening soccer camp in Conception Bay South, west of St. John’s, attended by more than 20 players aged 10 to 13 and their parents.
Witnesses quoted in Flynn’s ruling described “pandemonium” and “children running everywhere” as the wounded boy grasped his throat, blood seeping through his fingers. A nurse who happened to be there helped a man keep pressure on the child’s neck as emergency crews raced to the scene.
“He was compelled by the voices he heard to attack that young boy,” Flynn concluded. As a result, he was unable to comprehend that what he was doing was “morally wrong.”
A forensic psychiatrist reported those symptoms of psychosis did not abate until two months after Layman was hospitalized.
He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. He showed no emotion as he sat in the witness box Wednesday with his ankles shackled and hands folded.
Layman will remain in custody in a forensic psychiatric unit at the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s.
A review board including medical and legal professionals will monitor his mental state.
It will also decide if and when he will be released, and under what conditions.
Flynn’s ruling says Layman approached the boy, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, at about 7:45 p.m. that night. Two groups of four teams aged 10 to 13 were taking part in the soccer skills program.
Layman moved “as if he was going to hug him.”
Instead, he stabbed the boy “about five times” in the chest and neck, says the ruling. Layman then jumped over a fence and took off in a vehicle. The whole incident lasted about 30 seconds.
Nicholas Layman appears in provincial court in St. John’s, N.L., on Wednesday. He was found not guilty due to schizophrenia in an attack on a young player on a Newfoundland soccer field in 2014. An 11-year-old boy was stabbed repeatedly in the neck and chest but later recovered.