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