A teenager charged with murder over the death of another patient in the Canberra Hospital’s mental health unit was remanded in custody when he appeared in court to face his charge for the first time.
Members of the 18-year-old’s family packed the ACT Magistrates Courtroom on Monday (14 November) to see him appear over audio-visual link and be formally charged with murdering the 38-year-old on 12 November 2022.
He did not apply for bail and a suppression order granted by Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter means neither he nor the deceased can be named, at least until he next appears in court.
His Legal Aid lawyer Tamzin Lee asked for the suppression of his name, saying a mental health report showed he was in a “vulnerable state”, while prosecutor Rebecca Christensen SC asked for the deceased’s name to be suppressed.
Special Magistrate Hunter ultimately agreed to make the order until the teen next appeared in court on 5 December.
She remanded him in custody, marked him as a prisoner at risk and recommended he be assessed for admission into the Dhulwa mental health facility, a secure mental health unit. No plea was entered.
At one stage, the teen appeared to want to address the court, as he said, “Excuse me, your honour?” But he was encouraged to remain silent.
“You’ll be taken out to the AMC, then the mental health people will have a look at you,” Special Magistrate Hunter told him.
“Yes, your honour,” he answered.
ACT Policing has already said he and the 38-year-old were both patients in the Adult Mental Health Unit at the Canberra Hospital. They are not believed to have known each other outside of their hospital stay.
When police arrived at the hospital just after midnight on Sunday morning (13 November), staff were attempting to revive the 38-year-old and the 18-year-old had been secured in the unit. However, their efforts were unsuccessful and the man died.
Police did not believe a weapon was involved in the incident. No other staff or patients were injured.