St Albans stabbing case closed

A St Albans man who admitted stabbing his next-door neighbour has been found not guilty due to mental impairment.

Nam Nhat Doan was charged with the murder of Craig Smith on June 4 last year.

The Supreme Court heard on February 13 that the then 39-year-old, who was discharged from the Broadmeadows mental health unit on April 22, had been in a highly erratic state on the day of the murder.

Keilor Downs’ Senior Constable Belinda Illingworth told the court she was concerned for her safety when approached by Doan, who was “very erratic, not at all stable”, when she visited Mr Smith’s Biggs Street address on the day of the murder. Later that day, Doan, carrying a carving knife, approached Mr Smith, who held an 80-centimetre piece of wood, in the driveway outside their units.

Doan stabbed Mr Smith in the stomach during an altercation. Mr Smith returned to his unit to call triple-0, while Doan walked about one kilometre to a public telephone box in Alfrieda Street, St Albans, to call police and confess to the stabbing.

Mr Smith was taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital but died because of blood loss.

The court was told Doan had a long history of mental health problems. He was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder in 1995, schizophrenia in 1996, and was a regular involuntary patient at the Sunshine adult acute psychiatric unit. His mental state was compounded by substance abuse, including methylamphetamine and cannabis. The court heard Doan had attempted to punch his case manager in May and threatened to stab and burn staff at the Harvester clinic just days before the murder. It is believed Doan had not taken medication for various mental health issues since May 21.

Giving evidence of Doan’s mental state, Dr Nigel Owens said it was likely that Doan was suffering from chronic psychotic conditions at the time of the offence.

Justice Stephen Kaye said: “I am well satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the defence of mental impairment is made out in this most unfortunate case.”

Doan will be liable to supervision under the Mental Health Act.