Nuneaton News Court hears from medics on whether ac­cused ‘de­pressed’

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

THE fi­nal day of pro­ceed­ings for this year in the Dionne Clark mur­der trial heard med­i­cal ev­i­dence re­lat­ing to El­iz­a­beth El­lis and whether de­pres­sion meant her claim of lim­ited in­volve­ment in the Nuneaton woman’s death amounted to di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity.

El­lis, 20, is ac­cused of the mur­der of the mother of four, along with Do­minic Wal­lis, 28.

Al­legedly, Miss Clark died af­ter be­ing tied up and at­tacked at Wal­lis’s home in Cor­nish Close, Nuneaton, on June 16 this year.

Do­minic Wal­lis’s par­ents – Karen and Kings­ley Wal­lis – are also on trial and both deny a charge of per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice.

The jury heard the ev­i­dence of two con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trists, who had dif­fer­ing opin­ions as to whether El­lis was suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion at the time of Miss Clark’s death.

Pro­ceed­ings opened with con­sul­tant foren­sic psy­chi­a­trist Dr Nuwan Galap­pathie tak­ing to the wit­ness box and be­ing ques­tioned about a re­port he was asked to pre­pare on El­iz­a­beth El­lis. Dr Galap­pathie said he looked at her med­i­cal his­tory, cit­ing a time in 2015 when she vis­ited a GP surgery seek­ing help for de­pres­sion. He said El­lis had told the GP ‘there was some­thing wrong with her head’ and that she was tak­ing the drugs M-Cat and cannabis.

Dr Galap­pathie said he thought the key rea­son she went was as a re­sult of the death of her father, who had com­mit­ted sui­cide. He said: “She said that her father had killed his girl­friend and him­self.

“She said that she did not feel right in the head psy­cho­log­i­cally.”

“She was us­ing a lot of drugs at that time.”

Dr Galap­pathie said El­lis would have ben­e­fit­ted from help and although she was di­rected some­where it was not fol­lowed up,

In­ter­view­ing her af­ter she had been charged Dr Galap­pathie said he found her to be “quite anx­ious” and spoke of low mood, loss of ap­petite and weight loss.

He said: “Low mood, lost ap­petite and weight loss are all symp­toms of de­pres­sion, though they could be ac­counted for by drugs.

“She said she didn’t en­joy any­thing in life and said she pre­vi­ously en­joyed spend­ing time with her father.”

He added that she had is­sues get­ting on with other peo­ple and ag­gres­sion.

Dr Galap­pathie said that at the time of Dionne Clark’s death he be­lieved El­lis was suf­fer­ing from a “mod­er­ate de­pressed episode”.

He said: “Mod­er­ate de­pres­sion is what I think she had and was un­der­stand­able given the death of her father.”

Dr Galap­pathie was asked whether de­pres­sion could have im­paired El­lis’s abil­ity to make judge­ments or prob­lem solve.

He said: “I have con­sid­ered di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity in this case.

“De­pres­sion is a recog­nised dis­or­der and af­fects peo­ple’s abil­ity to think for them­selves and solve prob­lems.

“At the time of this of­fence she would have been suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion and it would have af­fected her abil­ity to think clearly and to prob­lem solve.

“Other things would have af­fected her, such as al­co­hol and drugs.”

El­lis’s bar­ris­ter Adrian Keel­ing asked Dr Galap­pathie if the events had oc­curred as El­iz­a­beth El­lis had de­scribed them (that she had handed tape to Do­minic Wal­lis) then her de­pres­sion could have amounted to di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity. He agreed that was the case.

He said: “It is the level of vi­o­lence she may have com­mit­ted.

“If she had been mak­ing the de­ci­sions and it was sus­tained vi­o­lence by her then it wouldn’t amount to di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“But if it re­lated to be­ing there, be­ing present, be­ing co­erced and ma­nip­u­lated and in­volved in the killing and de­pres­sion caus­ing poor prob­lem solv­ing skills at the time that would amount to di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“She would have been vul­ner­a­ble as a re­sult of de­pres­sion and more vul­ner­a­ble to threats.

“But if she was vol­un­tar­ily par­tic­i­pat­ing and strik­ing down blows and en­gag­ing in sus­tained vi­o­lence I don’t think de­pres­sion would ex­plain it. It is no longer vul­ner­a­bil­ity and act­ing in a vul­ner­a­ble way and I don’t think that would amount to di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

An­other con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist who gave ev­i­dence did not think El­lis was suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion.

Dr Nicholas Kennedy said when he in­ter­viewed El­lis she was re­luc­tant to talk about the cir­cum­stances which led to her ar­rest.

He said: “She said all she had given to the po­lice dur­ing the sec­ond set of in­ter­views was ac­cu­rate.”

Dr Kennedy said he held a dif­fer­ent view to Dr Galap­pathie as to whether El­lis was suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion at the time of Miss Clark’s death.

He said: “I am not as con­vinced as Dr Galap­pathie. Her de­scrip­tion to the GP is con­sis­tent with some­one who is very dis­tressed and us­ing a lot of drugs but not the same as some­one who is de­pressed. “De­pres­sion is a med­i­cal ill­ness and has a pro­found ef­fect on some­one’s so­cial func­tion. Peo­ple are dis­tressed for all sorts of rea­sons and that is not the same as de­pres­sion.”

Dr Kennedy also sug­gested that even if she were de­pressed, it might not be rea­son for El­lis to be­have as she did.

He said: “I don’t think de­pres­sion would have stopped some­one from un­der­stand­ing when some­one is be­ing tied up, bound and as­saulted.”

Sum­ming up, Dr Kennedy said: “I can’t see any­thing here on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­i­ties where this was di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Dr Kennedy’s ev­i­dence con­cluded the case for El­lis’s de­fence.

Judge Si­mon Drew QC ad­journed pro­ceed­ings un­til Tues­day Jan­uary 2 2018 at 2pm when Do­minic Wal­lis’s de­fence case will com­mence.

The jury heard the ev­i­dence of two con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trists, who had dif­fer­ing opin­ions as to whether El­lis was suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion at the time of Miss Clark’s death.

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