WARNING: Graphic content.
An asylum seeker is alleged to have repeatedly slashed and chopped three people with a meat cleaver and a knife in an attack that left one dead and the others seriously injured two years ago.
Wajid Kakar was charged with the murder of his housemate Michael Allen Clement Williams and the attempted murder of two others from the incident on 20 February 2021 in the north Canberra suburb of Page.
But while the facts are agreed in the case against him, both his lawyers and the prosecution want him to be declared not guilty by mental impairment because he suffered from schizophrenia at the time of the incident.
Documents recently tendered to the court say Kakar moved into a share house in Page in late 2020, renting with Mr Williams and two other housemates.
One of these housemates left the night before the incident, but a woman arrived and stayed over for a date with the other.
Shortly before 9 am on 20 February 2021, Kakar allegedly used a sharp object, which the documents say was most likely a meat cleaver, to inflict numerous chop wounds all over Mr Williams’ body.
His injuries included fractures to his skull and spine while his spinal cord was almost severed. He died as a result of his injuries.
The woman and the housemate allegedly woke up to Kakar barging into their bedroom, carrying the knives and saying something like, “I’m going to kill you”, before slashing and chopping them both.
The housemate was cut 44 times over his body before he was able to flee the bedroom, then ran from the house and asked a neighbour to call police.
He later described the attack as “being like in a horror movie”.
Meanwhile, Kakar allegedly dragged the woman into the kitchen while continuing to cut her all over her body with the meat cleaver, leaving her with fractures to her skull and spine.
He then used the knife to cut his own throat and stab himself in his abdomen.
Police arrived to find him walking outside the house while carrying the knives. Officers told him to drop the weapons, but he allegedly ran towards them, so they tasered him and were able to place him under arrest after a struggle.
A daily cannabis user, he had remained in his bedroom in the days leading up to the attacks but played loud music and voice recordings which annoyed the others in the house.
The 37-year-old pleaded not guilty by mental impairment to a single count of murder and two counts of attempted murder when he appeared in the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday (15 February).
Crown prosecutor Anthony Williamson SC alleged the case involved extreme violence without provocation.
But he said all the experts who had been consulted for the matter thought Kakar had a legal defence; that at the time of the attacks, he suffered from schizophrenia of such a nature that he could not control his conduct and could not appreciate that it was wrong.
Mr Williamson said he consented to a verdict of not guilty by mental impairment.
Legal Aid’s Tamzin Lee said Kakar was an asylum seeker from Afghanistan who moved to Pakistan, then passed through several countries by boat to get to Australia in what was a “perilous” journey “to create a better life for his family”.
He was in detention at Christmas Island before being released in Melbourne, but then the visa he was on was revoked, and he spent four more years in facilities before being granted a temporary bridging visa and coming to Canberra.
Ms Lee said at the time of the murder, Kakar was isolated, spent every night on the phone to his family overseas and feared being returned to Afghanistan and executed. Also, his work had finished and he was under extreme financial stress.
She said he did not recall the attacks, but he had been read the agreed facts and had expressed sadness and regret.
“He said that it is wrong to take a life and he is sorry that he has done so,” she said.
However, Mr Williamson argued there was no evidence to corroborate anything Kakar had said about his life outside Australia and he had lied several times about his background in Afghanistan.
For instance, he told immigration authorities the Taliban assaulted him but admitted this was false to a forensic psychiatrist.
Also, the number of his children and their genders kept changing when he gave another account.
Justice Belinda Baker told the court she would reserve to consider the material she had been given and would return to make a decision in the future.
She must decide if it is appropriate to record a special verdict of not guilty by mental impairment, then if so, she must decide what sentence she would have handed down if he was found criminally guilty.
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