Fire accused ruled unfit for trial
A man who allegedly set fire to cardboard boxes he stacked up outside the door of a South Hedland residence in 2017 in a blaze that caused more than $10,000 damage has been deemed not fit to stand trial and remanded into custody.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Hall ruled that Luke Stimpson could not fairly take part in a trial because of the severe schizophrenia he suffered from that had been resistant to treatment. It is alleged Mr Stimpson set light to a stack of boxes at a home on Chunking Crescent, used as temporary accommodation for mining employees, with which the man had no association.
He entered a plea of not guilty in October and faced a Supreme Court trial by jury one month later, but it was vacated after he had an outburst in front of the jury during the prosecutor’s opening address.
Mr Stimpson said in the presence of the jury he had changed his mind and wanted to plead guilty, and he did not care about going back to jail. After the jury left the courtroom, Justice Hall said Mr Stimpson began to talk incoherently about murderers, paedophiles, the internet and “the Aboriginal people”.
A psychiatric report submitted as evidence at a Supreme Court hearing earlier this month stated Mr Stimpson had a longstanding history of severe schizophrenia and had been admitted to a Broome mental health hospital on a number of occasions. The report said the man would benefit from the treatment of the “last-resort” drug clozapine, which can only be administered in a mental health hospital.
It stated Mr Stimpson had previously refused the treatment.
In concluding the hearing, Justice Hall said Mr Stimpson would not be fit for trial in the next six months but clozapine was a viable option to improve his condition.
“The accused has varied in his attitude to whether he will co-operate with alternative treatments,” he said. “Most recently he has refused to accept clozapine and his co-operation is required because of the way this medication is administered.
“Nevertheless, there remains a real possibility that he will agree to this treatment and will become fit.”
Justice Hall said there was “no realistic option” other than to remand Mr Stimpson in custody.
The matter was adjourned for six months.
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