A jury has found Alan Robinson, 56, guilty of attempting to kill Warwick woman Vernica Tucker in a knife attack in December 2013, dismissing the opinions of two psychiatrists who said he was insane at the time of the incident.
The 10- person jury delivered its verdict in Supreme Court after just over an hour of deliberation on Friday.
The Hamilton Parish man, who suffers from schizophrenia, was also found guilty of unlawfully carrying a bladed weapon in public, and assaulting Kevin Arorash, also of Hamilton Parish.
Robinson stared vacantly ahead when the guilty verdicts were read. The unanimous verdicts followed six days of hearings during which the Crown argued that Robinson first attacked Arorash and then stabbed Tucker five times leaving a knife in her chest on the night of December 11, 2012. The case turned on whether Robinson was of sound mind at the time of the incident.
Crown counsel Nicole Smith argued that there was no evidence that he was insane at the time of the attack as Robinson’s mental health had not been immediately evaluated.
She suggested that the defendant decided not to take his medication – a form of “dutch courage” – in order to commit the crimes. She said the fact that he ran away from the scene and locked himself in the house showed that he knew what he did was wrong. Ms Smith also suggested that Robinson’s comments to a psychiatrist that he retaliated when attacked with a knife was merely an attempt to deny culpability.
Defending Robinson, Saul Dismont sought to persuade the jury that there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of the offences beyond a reasonable doubt and that if he did commit the offences he was insane at the time and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Dismont pointed to reports by forensic psychiatrist Marcel Westerlund and consultant psychiatrist Grant Farquhar which said Robinson had a history of psychiatric problems dating back to the 1980s and had been admitted to Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute on several occasions.
The psychiatric reports indicated that he was prone to violent behaviors if his condition was not treated and had on occasion attacked MAWI personnel.
Robinson was admitted to Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute two days after his arrest and diagnosed with schizophrenia. The psychiatrist’s report noted that he was hallucinating and it did not appear that he had been treated for his condition in the previous three months. It concluded that he was mentally ill at the time of the commission of the offence.
Another psychiatrist’s report came to the same conclusion.
Mr. Robinson was brought in by the police two days after the alleged incident and all the time he was undoubtedly psychotic under the influence of enduring mental illness and he was subsequently sectioned. This clearly indicates that by the time of the offence Mr. Robinson was psychotic. Mr. Robinson should not be held responsible.
But the Crown pointed to evidence that Arorash and Robinson had normal interactions in the house they had shared for a brief period, and argued that the psychiatrists’ report could not be relied upon as the assessments were not conducted immediately after the offences.
“There is no evidence you can rely on that even tend to suggest that at the time of the commission of the offences Alan Robinson was suffering from mental illness,” Smith told the jury.
He had the requisite intent and you don’t have to prove motive. People do things.
DNA evidence and Arorash’s statement to the police that he recognized his attacker linked Robinson to the attacks.
Common sense has to lead you to conclude that the accused was at the crime scene, that the accused assaulted Kevin Arorash and that the accused attempted to kill, or wound, Ms Tucker.
Smith urged the jury to dismiss suggestions that the crime scene may have been tainted and said in light of all the other evidence, it was of little consequence that Tucker’s statements to the court contained inconsistencies.
Dismont reminded the jury that Robinson’s trial was taking place three years after the incident because he had been too sick to plead.
“This is Mr. Robinson after he’s had three years of treatment so you can only imagine how ill he was back on the 12 December 2012,” Dismont said.
The prosecution say it doesn’t matter he has schizophrenia, it doesn’t matter that he has a history of becoming violent when he doesn’t take his medication and it doesn’t matter that three months before this incident he attacked members of staff at MWI. They say that doesn’t matter. They say he either stopped taking his medication as a kind of reverse Dutch courage or this is some master plan of Mr. Robinson and on the night he wasn’t insane – he was just pretending to be.
He added: “So we are to believe that Mr. Robinson decided to stop taking his medications …. So that in three months’ time he could attack two people that he had never even met yet.”
The court heard that Tucker arrived at the Rocky Lane house Kevin Arorash shared with Robinson and two other men in the early evening hours of December 10, 2012. Later that night, neighbours, alerted by her screams for help, found her lying on Rocky Lane bleeding profusely from stab wounds. Emergency services were called and police arrested Robinson after forcing their way into the house.
Tucker told the court that Arorash was accompanying her to the bus stop after her visit with him when he was attacked from behind. The two struggled briefly in the bushes and the attacker then turned on her stabbing her five times and leaving the knife in her chest before fleeing the scene.
Arorash is now deceased and his statement to the police was read in court. He told police that his attacker had come up behind him and attempted to cut his throat with a knife but was saved from harm by the coat he was wearing and he recognized his attacker as “Carlton’s brother” – Robinson – who had moved into the residence two weeks earlier.
Robinson is to be sentenced at a later date.
Dismont declared himself shocked by the verdict.
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