N.L. man not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble in soc­cer stab­bing

Judge rules Ni­cholas Lay­man sick with un­con­trolled psy­chosis at time of at­tack

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

“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.

CP PHOTO

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.

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