Woman found not guilty

Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014

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Details of what happened on the morning Sucharitta Milton injured a baby with a knife emerged in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday before she was found not guilty by way of insanity.

Milton, 33, had been charged with attempted murder, but Justice Graham Panckhurst yesterday said she was clearly suffering from a "serious and debilitating disease of the mind" at the time when she took a knife and injured the baby before turning it on herself.

Justice Panckhurst said Milton's husband left the room for a short time and on his return was "confronted with an awful scene".

The baby had been grievously injured with a knife and Milton was in the process of harming herself with the same knife, he said.

Her husband helped his wife and the baby and called 111 before going outside to open the gate, Justice Panckhurst said.

The baby sustained "a very serious wound" and was treated in Southland before being transferred to Starship Hospital.

Milton also suffered serious wounds to her wrists and underwent surgery before being admitted to the mental health unit at Southland Hospital, Justice Panckhurst said.

He said Milton had been taken to hospital twice before the incident, where there was mention of depression. On the first occasion she was advised to see her GP, he said.

During the hearing yesterday several people sat in the public gallery to support Milton, who sat at a table beside the dock.

Milton's lawyer Tim Fournier had applied for the order of insanity under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act.

Justice Panckhurst found Milton not guilty by way of insanity and ordered her to undergo community treatment, with details to be discussed at a later date.

He said Milton had been suffering from psychosis and delusional hallucinations.

Two experts had agreed she did not understand the moral of her actions, he said.

"I am entirely satisfied a finding of insanity in that you are not guilty of the charge . . . is appropriate, and I make that finding."

Before Justice Panckhurst delivered his finding, a doctor and associate professor were questioned via audio visual link about Milton's past and ongoing treatment.

Associate Professor Phil Brinded told the court Milton had made a good recovery and had been co-operative.

Justice Panckhurst asked him if he accepted Milton's illness was in remission.

Prof Brinded said "yes it does appear to be".

The Miltons did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

The Southland Times has opted not to run photographs of the Miltons.

If you or someone you know needs to talk, these are 24-hour helplines: Lifeline: 0800 543 354 Youthline: 0800 376 633 Samaritans: 0800 726 666. If it is an emergency call 111 For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz

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- The Southland Times

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