Nuneaton News Court told ac­cused may have been ‘sub­stan­tially impaired’

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

A PSY­CHI­A­TRIST told a court that a man ac­cused of killing a mum-of-four in Nuneaton may have been “sub­stan­tially impaired” on the night of her death due to his men­tal ill­ness.

A jury at Birm­ing­ham Crown Court heard that Dominic Wal­lis was suf­fer­ing from the “most se­vere form” of para­noid schizophre­nia at the time of Dionne Clark’s death in June 2017.

Wal­lis, 28, is ac­cused of mur­der­ing Miss Clark, who the pros­e­cu­tion say was beaten and then tied up us­ing tape and wires.

Dominic Wal­lis de­nies the killing, as does his co-de­fen­dant El­iz­a­beth El­lis, who is 20 and also from Nuneaton.

They are stand­ing trial along­side Dominic’s par­ents – Karen and Kings­ley Wal­lis – who both deny a charge of per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice.

Yes­ter­day’s ev­i­dence cen­tred around the “par­tial de­fence” of di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity, or ab­nor­mal­ity of men­tal func­tion­ing, as it is also known.

Christo­pher Milling­ton QC, bar­ris­ter for Dominic Wal­lis, then called Dr Di­nesh Ma­ganty, a con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist, to give ev­i­dence. He told the jury: “In my opin­ion, on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­ity, his men­tal health would have been sub­stan­tially impaired at that point.”

He says that he is in “no doubt” that Dominic’s para­noid schizophre­nia was of a “se­ri­ous nature” in the days and weeks lead­ing up to June 16.

How­ever, he ad­mit­ted that it is not pos­si­ble to be “cer­tain” and his opin­ion was based on the “bal­ance of prob­a­bil­ity”.

Dr Ma­ganty said that in 2016 Dominic re­ported hear­ing voices and see­ing things, as well as be­ing para­noid that “peo­ple were af­ter him”. Dominic be­gan treat­ment as an out­pa­tient at a men­tal health clinic in Nuneaton in 2017. Fol­low­ing re­ports that Dominic twice tried to com­mit sui­cide last year, a mem­ber of the early in­ter­ven­tion team stated that he be­lieved Dominic’s med­i­ca­tion should be changed.

Dr Ma­ganty said that Dominic’s med­i­ca­tion at the time was re­duced, as is nor­mal prac­tice when switch­ing med­i­ca­tions, but said this would have had a “sig­nif­i­cant” and “detri­men­tal” ef­fect on him.

Dr Ma­ganty stated that the drug does work for suf­fer­ers of para­noid schizophre­nia when other med­i­ca­tions have failed, and is usu­ally given with the suf­ferer as an in­pa­tient in hos­pi­tal, while un­der “close mon­i­tor­ing” and hav­ing blood tests car­ried out.

Mr Milling­ton stated that Dominic was moved on to the new med­i­ca­tion on June 13 last year – three days be­fore Miss Clark’s death – and asked Dr Ma­ganty if pa­tients put on that med­i­ca­tion are con­sid­ered to be “vul­ner­a­ble”.

Dr Ma­ganty said they are as their pre­vi­ous med­i­ca­tion had al­ready been re­duced and, while the rec­om­mended dosage of the new med­i­ca­tion is 300mg, it has to be­gin at 25mg and then be in­creased over four weeks.

He said this process should be car­ried out with the pa­tient hav­ing been ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal and it is “un­usual” for this to hap­pen in a “com­mu­nity set­ting”.

Mr Milling­ton stated that on June 16, af­ter Dominic had taken drugs and drank al­co­hol at his home in Cor­nish Close with El­lis and Miss Clark, there was a “trig­ger” to start the events that evening which was fluid go­ing into El­lis’ mouth.

Mr Milling­ton asked Dr Ma­ganty how Dominic’s men­tal health could have af­fected his re­sponse to that. Dr Ma­ganty said that Dominic’s his­tory of men­tal ill­ness, com­bined with the “sub­stances” (drink and drugs) he had also con­sumed, could lead to some­one “mis­in­ter­pret­ing” those ac­tions and an “ir­ra­tional” re­sponse.

Annabel Dar­low QC, for the pros­e­cu­tion, told the court that Dominic’s ac­tions to dis­pose of cannabis from the house in Cor­nish Close be­fore po­lice were called, mak­ing up a story to tell po­lice and telling other lies, and how close that be­hav­iour was to Miss Clark’s death, shows “ra­tio­nal think­ing and un­der­stand­ing the nature of this con­duct”.

Dr Ma­ganty agreed and told the court: “This is not a case in which I, or any other ex­pert, can be cer­tain, but in my opin­ion he could have that par­tial de­fence.”

Miss Dar­low stated that the doc­tor’s opin­ion was based on “guess work” and asked: “What pushes you one way or an­other?”

The doc­tor replied: “The com­bi­na­tion of things. The lon­gi­tude of the schizophre­nia and he has the most se­vere form of schizophre­nia.

“There’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion to this.”

The trial con­tin­ues

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