MURDER ON THE MURRAY TRIAL
A MOTHER has been found not guilty of both murder and attempted murder of her sons by way of mental illness.
The Deniliquin woman, 28, was cleared of any legal wrongdoing by Justice Richard Button in the Supreme Court in Wagga Wagga yesterday.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will be held by the Mental Health Tribunal at the Silverwater detention facility until “the tribunal is satisfied she will not harm anyone in the community, including herself”.
Justice Button said the special defence of mental illness was established due to her “intense delusion” that she would be “raped and murdered by her expartner” and the only way out was to kill her two sons and herself.
The court heard the woman had not been in contact with the ex-partner since 2016.
The judge-only trial described the woman’s life leading up to the event as riddled with mental health, illicit drugs and behavioural issues which stem back to as early as age eight.
Two psychiatrists who gave evidence in the trial said the woman had “borderline personality disorder, long standing substance abuse disorder and depression disorder”.
“The profoundly violent act was caused by a disease of the mind which led to a defect of reason where she didn't appreciate what she was doing was morally wrong,” Justice Button said.
Although Justice Button said the phone call the woman made to her mother the day of the murder, where she said “you will never see us again”, could be seen as a “degree of premedi- tation”, he said her delusion had taken over.
“It was utter irrationality that her solution to being in mortal danger was to kill her two sons and herself,” he said.
“Being drowned is a terrible death.”
The judge took just three days of the judge-alone trial to come to the verdict, during which Justice Button described the woman sitting in the dock “distressed, seemingly distracted, rocking back and forth and bizarrely plaiting her hair”.
The court heard the woman picked her two sons up from school on March 1 before telling her mother she was taking them for a swim.
“Her mother reported them missing about 2am on March 2 after they had not come home,” Justice Button said.
He said the three then went to Bendigo although the purpose of that journey was “unclear to me”.
“At 11am the mother and her two boys took a taxi to Goornong where a shop owner said she ‘wasn't all there’.
“At 1.30pm they took a taxi back to Bendigo before travelling to Moama with Robert Cooper and his sister Ada Cooper.
“At 4pm they arrived at the semi-rural property on the Murray River where the accused tragically convinced herself they were in mortal danger.”
When delivering his verdict Justice Button said there was no evidence the woman had taken any drugs or alcohol but he did refer to the fact she “no longer cared” to take her prescribed medication after her release from jail.
“I extend my condolences to all who have suffered, and who will suffer into the future, including the accused, who will come to see, if she has not already, the enormity of what she has done,” Justice Button said.