A 36-year-old man who stabbed a Hobart shopkeeper to death in broad daylight in 2016 was found not guilty by reason of insanity by a Supreme Court jury on Thursday.
Daryl Royston Wayne Cook had been out of jail for just one day when he walked into a North Hobart grocer run by Voula Delios on July 23, holding a knife he had purchased the day before.
The court heard Cook had been suffering from months of delusions while in prison and believed he was a Christian crusader charged with ridding the world of heathens.
Forensic psychiatrist Michael Jordan told the hearing on Wednesday he believed killing Mrs Delios was the right thing to do and that he could not stop himself from doing it.
In a police interview, Cook said: “I located a heathen and I executed it”.
Mrs Delios was stabbed at least 22 times – 10 times in the neck.
She died on the floor of her shop while Cook raided the cash register.
The court heard Cook had been admitted into psychiatric facilities since 2002 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 22 years old.
He had stopped using anti-psychotic medication at the time of the killing.
Cook’s lawyer Rochelle Mainwaring and Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates both argued for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
“I would suggest that Mrs Delios was killed for no apparent sane reason,” Mr Coates told the jury.
“The expert evidence has not been challenged, and unless it is inherently unbelievable, you could need a sound basis on which to reject it.”
He said the police interview detailed “an honest but bizarre account of the incident”.
Mr Coates said Cook had spent the time between his release from jail and Mrs Delios’ death identifying heathens from the street and discussing his plan to execute one or more.
Ms Mainwaring told the jury that a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity was not the same as an acquittal.
She said Cook’s mental illness had deprived him of the opportunity to think and rationalise.
Ms Mainwaring said it was unusual that two different psychiatrists employed by either side had reached the same conclusions as they had in this case.
Dr Jordan and Tasmanian Forensic Mental Health Services head, Leila Kavanagh, both said Cook was delusional and could not rationalise that killing Ms Delios was wrong.
The jury delivered its verdict after four hours of deliberation. Justice Gregory Geason ordered Cook be detained in a secure mental health facility indefinitely.