Our Cases » Woman facing life imprisonment receives conditional release after special verdict

Woman facing life imprisonment receives conditional release after special verdict

In January 2021, our client was charged with multiple charges, including, two counts of aggravated sexual assault in company, contrary to section 61JA of the Crimes Act 1900.   This is an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. 

After reviewing the police brief of evidence as well as evidence obtained from our client’s clinical psychiatrist and psychologist, we formed the view that the defence of mental health impairment was open to our client due to her pre-existing mental health issues.  Accordingly, our criminal lawyers engaged a forensic psychiatrist, who provided a report opining that it was open to the Court to find that she was not criminally responsible for her actions due to her mental health impairment. 

The case proceeded to an application at the Sydney District Court for a special verdict under section 31 of the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020.  

In November 2022, the Court granted the special verdict and the Court then received evidence and submissions regarding the consequential orders to be made.  

Our solicitors tendered a further report from the forensic psychiatrist discussing the significant progress that our client had made since her arrest and stating that she posed a low risk of reoffending if she remained in the community subject to a mental health treatment plan.  We relied upon further evidence demonstrating that the community would not be endangered were she permitted to remain in the community. 

Ultimately, the Court accepted our submissions that she be conditionally discharged and allowed to remain in the community as a forensic patient.  She will continue to be overseen by the Mental Health Review Tribunal.