By Elesha George
High Court Judge Justice Iain Morley has accepted a plea of manslaughter by “reason of diminished responsibility” for Wilson Adams, after hearing psychiatric testimony from consultant psychiatrist Dr Griffin Benjamin.
Adams was charged with murder in January 1997 after killing 61-year-old Gabrielle Stocker in cold blood while she relaxed on the sand at Runaway Beach.
According to court documents, he bashed the woman’s head in with a rock and then slashed her throat because the voices in his head told him to do it.
Adam’s attorney Wendel Robinson requested a reduced charge last year, when the consultant decided that the now 56-year-old-man was fit to plea, after spending more than two decades at the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital.
However, the lawyer had argued that even if the man was declared fit to plea, he could not be held responsible for the crime, having been diagnosed with a mental disorder.
On Thursday, Dr Benjamin recalled his October 2020 report where he diagnosed Adams with schizophrenia, which he said has been kept under control by the use of medication over the years.
According to the doctor, the man needs a monthly injection of medication and supervision by a community nurse and the local psychiatrist.
He believes that with a proper mental health system, Adams, a former police constable, can be released into the community but it is not without risk.
Dr Benjamin, who believed that the man was suffering from a psychotic episode at the time he murdered Stocker, told the court that if Adams were to stop taking his medication, he would present a danger to the community and is likely to kill again.
He also said that the man had suffered with schizophrenia for such a long time that it remains his current state of mind.
The abnormality, he said, has substantially impaired Adams’ ability to take responsibility for the killing, his self-control, his ability to understand the nature of his conduct and his ability to form rational judgement.
“He was being inspired by a voice directing him,” the doctor said, adding that he did not believe that Adams understood that he was killing Stocker.
Another doctor who assessed the man in 1996 – before the killing, and again in 1997 after the killing – said Adams suffered from psychotic episodes and hallucinations, adding that his condition had been ongoing for some time.
While these traits are consistent with psychotic behaviour, Dr Benjamin explained that he was troubled because after 23 years of hospitalisation the man showed “very little regard and even very little understanding” of his actions and showed no sense of responsibility or regret.
“His sense of awareness is still very troubling to me,” he remarked, telling the judge that his major concern was that the man could kill again and be unware of his actions.
“The individual may not be responsible at the time of the action but when they become aware of it, they are able to acknowledge it after they become aware of it and in this case what troubled me was that he demonstrated very limited understanding that this happened and it’s associated with him,” he explained.
The proceedings have been adjourned until February 22 so that the court can determine how Adams will be supervised if his sentence allows him to go back into the community.
All parties will take into account that there are inadequate mental health systems to allow for that possibility.
There is also an issue with legislation as the Offences against a Person Act does not speak to how such a case would be disposed.
This is said to be the first case of manslaughter by diminished responsibility that the sitting counsel and the defendant’s lawyer have come across in their careers.
In the meantime, Adams has been remanded back to Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital where he has been ordered to continue taking his medication.