Akash murder trial: Psychiatrists on defendant’s insanity/sanity – court hears opposing views

Akash, who goes by only one name, pleaded not guilty to murder at the start of his trial in Auckland High Court. Photo/Michael Craig

In the hours and days after schizophrenic security guard Akash stabbed his girlfriend to death, evidence suggests he dumped Gurpreet Kaur’s body in a remote area of ​​South Auckland he tried to hide bloodstains on his clothes and he insisted on going to the police. old woman committed suicide.

While there is no doubt that he suffered from a “disease of the mind”, these actions suggest he is unlikely to fit the parameters of an insanity defense, said today a forensic psychiatrist to the jury during his murder trial.

“I am of the opinion, on a balance of probabilities, that it is more likely than not that he knew what he was doing was wrong,” Dr Peter Dean told the Auckland High Court.

Akash, who goes by a name, had been living in New Zealand on a student visa for around three years when he was arrested in April 2016 for the death of Kaur, who was seven to 10 weeks pregnant. He pleaded guilty to murder and was convicted in October 2016, but four years later the Court of Appeal overturned the conviction so a jury could decide the insanity issue.

For the defendant to be declared insane, jurors would have to determine that his mental illness was such that he did not know what he was doing was morally wrong.

Another medical examiner, Dr Justin Barry-Walsh, said Thursday that aspects of the case support the proposition that Akash was unaware he was morally wrong. Texts and testimonies about his behavior in the weeks leading up to the murder suggest his personality had changed, and he repeatedly mentioned that his accounts had been hacked, Barry-Walsh pointed out.

In interviews with mental health staff after his guilty plea, Akash said he was followed by gang members who wanted to harm him and he believed Kaur colluded with them by waving at them. from the hand.

But the defendant’s own account of what happened has changed several times over the past six years. Because of this, Dean said, he found Akash’s actions immediately after the murder to be more important in making his assessment.

“Hiding evidence of the incident further suggests he knew it was wrong,” Dean said.

Akash’s three taped interviews with police several days after Kaur’s death – in which he first said he knew nothing of her death, then suggested his own brother might be the culprit before driving the police to the body but saying it was a suicide – were also telling, the psychiatrist says.

Dean said he reviewed several police interviews of people who were later found to be legally insane. In some of them, the suspects are puzzled to be there “and expect to be released because they believe they have done nothing wrong”, he said. Sometimes a person is rather guarded – perhaps they don’t trust the police – and give limited information. And other times “you might get a very mechanical account of the actions without any explanation,” he said.

But Dean said giving police a deliberately misleading account of what happened would be unusual “if they believe what they did is morally justified”.

The trial is due to continue on Monday.

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