25 March 2021

Russell Walker cleared of attempted murder of dinner guest

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts Photo: Michelle Kroll Region Media

Russell Te-Rangi Walker has been acquitted of an attempted murder charge. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A man stabbed near the heart after a dinner in Tuggeranong “will never be the same person again” the court heard after his attacker was acquitted of attempting to kill him.

But while Russell Te-Rangi Walker was cleared of an attempted murder charge, he will still be detained so he can receive treatment for his mental health.

According to agreed facts, Mr Walker was at a home in Bonython on 28 June 2019 having dinner with a small group of friends, including the 41-year-old victim, when the incident happened.

In an unprovoked attack, Mr Walker stabbed his victim, then pulled the kitchen knife out of his chest, leaving behind a 15cm wound.

He was reportedly shocked by his own actions, crying out: “Oh my God, I’ve stabbed him!”.

READ MORE ‘Oh my God, I’ve stabbed him’: Victim knifed in after-dinner attack

Mr Walker faced a judge-alone trial in the ACT Supreme Court before Justice David Mossop handed down his verdict on Thursday (25 March), finding him not guilty of attempted murder and not guilty due to mental impairment of an alternative charge of intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Private barrister instructed by Legal Aid Jon White SC had been successful in arguing that not only did Mr Walker not intend to kill his victim, he was not responsible for the attack due to mental illness.

Mr Walker has a diagnosis of chronic paranoid schizophrenia.

After the verdict prosecutor Rebecca Christensen read a victim impact statement to the court, where the victim said the knife had come extremely close to his heart and left him with a collapsed lung, and that he was very self-conscious of the scar it had left behind.

“I find people stare at me and back away when they see my scar,” he said.

The victim said he still had flashbacks to the event that occurred almost two years ago where he could see Mr Walker stabbing him.

“I can still feel him sticking the knife in me and I have to live with that,” he said.

“What Russell did to me has changed my life forever.

“I will never be the same person again.”

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Mr Walker, now aged in his early 30s, stared straight ahead while the victim impact statement was read out.

Ms Christensen argued there would be a significant risk to the community if Mr Walker was released from custody because he had a “history of violent offending” and did not always comply with his medication regime.

She also quoted a forensic psychiatrist who said Mr Walker was “clearly a dangerous individual when psychotic”.

However Mr White said his client had been compliant with his medication regime during the almost two years he had spent in custody since his arrest over this incident, and had acknowledged his need for treatment.

On Friday (26 March), Justice Mossop will deliver his sentence, announcing the maximum period Mr Walker can be detained for mental health treatment.

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