Australian Supreme Court rules that autistic man is fit to stand trial on charges of murdering his mother|
PERTH, Australia: A Supreme Court judge has ruled that an autistic man charged with murdering his mother - who has been missing for about three-and-a-half years - is fit to stand trial.
Justice John McKechnie handed down his judgment on Brent Donald Mack’s fitness to face trial on April 17. He has also ruled that Mr Mack, 26, would be tried before a judge without a jury and that the accused man could attend his trial via video link.
Defence lawyer Seamus Rafferty last month argued his client did not have the mental capacity to enter a plea, let alone stand trial for the murder of 56-year-old Ah Bee Mack, also known as Pauline. Mrs Mack’s body has never been found and she was last seen in September 2008.
However, prosecutor Dave Dempster claimed that Mr Mack was an intelligent man who ran a computer repair business and the case against him was strong.
Two psychiatrists gave conflicting evidence last month as to Mr Mack’s fitness to stand trial.Dr Mark Hall argued that Mr Mack could not hold a normal conversation and was not fit for trial. However, fellow psychiatrist Dr Salvatore Febbo disagreed, saying that, although it would be hard for Mr Mack to give evidence due to his disability, he was capable of following proceedings.
Prosecutors say Mr Mack was the only person living with his mother at the time of her disappearance and told police different versions of what happened to her. He said one version was that she had gone overseas; while another was that she had found a new boyfriend and cut herself off from relatives and friends.
Mr Dempster alleged that Mack had forged signatures and other documents to access Mrs Mack’s bank account and transfer her car into his name.
Mr Mack has been remanded in custody since he was first charged with fraud in August 2010 in relation to the theft of $162,000 from his mother’s bank account. The fraud charge was later upgraded to murder.
Mr Mack, who appeared via video link on April 17 with his head bowed, will stand trial next month.
(Sources: West Australian; AAP, April 17, 2012)