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A man who killed his partner with a hammer in their Kennington home in July last year, has been found not guilty of her murder by reason of mental impairment.
The Supreme Court heard Justin Kain Ellard, 37, believed he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and was required to sacrifice 32-year-old Jacinta Pompei “as part of his duty as the Messiah”.
The court heard Ms Pompei was resting face down on her bed about 11.20pm on the evening of July 20, when Ellard entered the room armed with a claw hammer and used it to strike her to the head at least three, and possibly more than six times.
At 1.12am on July 21, Ellard made a triple zero call to police, saying “I’ve actually just killed my girlfriend” and that she had not been breathing since about 12.30am.
An autopsy conducted the next day found extensive lacerations to the top and back of Ms Pompei’s head as well as multiple skull fractures and bruising and lacerations to the brain as a result of blunt force.
But on Thursday Justice Lex Lasry concluded, on the balance of probabilities, Ellard, who suffers from chronic schizophrenia, was unable to reason with “a moderate degree of sense and composure as to the wrongfulness of his actions”.
The court heard evidence from consultant forensic psychiatrist Kevin Ong, who assessed Ellard in August this year and found while he was fit to stand trial, the defence of not guilty by reason of mental impairment would be available to him.
Dr Ong said Ellard was “actively psychotic” at the time of the killing and the “relatively low-to-medium” dose of the antipsychotic he had been prescribed was “not enough to dampen his belief he was the Messiah”.
Ellard and Ms Pompei, who also suffered from schizophrenia, had shared the Mijuda Court unit since 2014, after meeting in a psychiatric facility in Bendigo where they were both receiving treatment.
The court heard Ellard’s belief he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ had been present since 2000, following an incident at a church in Bendigo, and that he believed he was required to make a human sacrifice at the behest of the media and members of the public.
Ellard was remanded in custody until January 30 next year when the court will determine if he is ever to be released.