A man caused a four-car pileup when he rammed his vehicle into his victim’s car as he chased her from her workplace.
ACT Supreme Court Justice Michael Elkaim handed down his judgement in late November, saying the 27-year-old admitted to the facts of the case, but had pleaded not guilty due to mental impairment to his charges.
Justice Elkaim said the man loitered near his victim’s Isabella Plains worksite in August 2020 and watched her while she was landscaping a nature strip.
The next day, 26 August, he returned to her worksite and approached her while holding a knife.
She fled in her car and he followed, ramming his car into hers while she was waiting for a red light which caused a four-car pileup.
The woman told a police officer, “he’s coming after us. He’s got a knife”.
“As she said this, [she] was screaming and crying and sounded terrified and short of breath,” the judgement says.
“Following the impact [she] sat in the driver’s seat and screamed, not knowing what to do and fearing what the accused might do.”
She was taken to the Canberra Hospital with pain in her neck and chest, and scratches to her legs.
Justice Elkaim said the facts had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
However, he also said a forensic psychiatrist found “it was more probable than not” that the man was mentally ill at the time of the offences, having likely been suffering from “poorly treated schizophrenia”. Another psychiatrist said he presented with psychosis.
Justice Elkaim ultimately entered verdicts of not guilty due to mental impairment to charges of stalking, damaging property and possessing an offensive weapon.
He ordered the man submit to the jurisdiction of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal so the tribunal could make a mental health order.