20 March, 2010

Exorcism

At about 4:30am on 16 November 1997 local emergency services received a '000' call requesting an ambulance and also, somewhat unusually, a priest. Police were also dispatched and they arrived first, swiftly followed by the ambulance. At the scene they found Jeff Noyes dressed in only green & gold football shorts, spattered with blood.

Constable Lind spoke to Jeff, and fairly quickly came to the conclusion that he was suffering from some sort of delusion that had a touch of religious mania. Jeff told Cst. Lind that his mother had asked him to perform an exorcism upon her, and had needed to be killed. He said that police could not enter until after a priest had arrived.

Nonetheless police gained entry to the home and found the body of Shirley Noyes, Jeff's mother. She was lying on the floor with a small plaque of stained glass placed over her. The injuries she had received were bizarre to say the least, and again religious in nature, such as stigmata-like wounds to the hands and feet. The eventual cause of death was found to be from a severe battering to the head.

Jeff freely admitted that he had been the one to kill his mother. He stated that he needed to do so, as she was about to give birth to a demon-child, and had been in a relationship with the devil. He was wearing the green & gold shorts because they were symbolic of Australia - Jeff felt he had done a service to his country, and indeed the world.

Tragically, at one stage he seemed to briefly slip out of his delusional state and become conscious of what he had done, asking police if he could call his sister at Nepean Hospital so that "Mum could be put back together again".

Apparently in the weeks leading up to the killing Jeff's disturbed behaviour had been increasing, and there had been incidents of appalling conduct towards family members, especially his mother. His family described him as being delusional and aggressive, and said that this had begun to take on a religious dimension, when he started raving about the devil and cults. In his interview with police, Jeff claimed he could hear banging on his mother's window, and he believed this was because people were entering her bedroom and having sex with her. He believed she was gaining weight, and came to the conclusion that this was because she was pregnant, and would soon give birth to the devil's child.

Jeff had suffered from prior bouts of insanity, and at one stage had been admitted to Cumberland Hospital in 1996, as well as Bungarribee House in 1997. He had also been in a motorbike accident in 1993, which had resulted in a closed-head injury.

The question for the court was whether Jeff had a defence of mental illness. The psychiatrists who saw Jeff were in agreement that at the time of the offence he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, which led to psychosis, worsened by his use of speed and pot. The Judge concluded that at the time he killed his mother Jeff did not know what he was doing, or if he did, he did not know that it was the wrong thing to do.

Jeff Noyes was therefore found not guilty of murder by reason of mental illness. He was ordered to be detained in strict custody in the Long Bay Prison Hospital, until determined fit for release.

As with all patients found not guilty on the grounds of mental illness, Jeff is now a 'forensic patient' under the supervision of the Mental Health Review Tribunal. The Tribunal reviews his case every six months, and then reports to the Minister of Health. This report contains recommendations as to to where and how Jeff is detained, and how he is medically treated. If the Tribunal ever comes to the view that Jeff is no longer a danger to himself, or any member of the public, then it will recommend his release. That recommendation is considered by the Minister of Health, who in turn makes its own decision about the case and advises the Governor. The Governor may then continue to detain Jeff, or otherwise order his release. If he is released, he may be subject to various conditions such as taking particular medication, living in a particular place, and so on. If Jeff was to breach any of those conditions, he would be detained once more. In some cases, forensic patients go on to become members of society once more, but in other cases they are never released.

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