Sunday, November 06, 2011


SMH, 6.11.11.

Paul Bibby Courts

A PSYCHIATRIC patient who believed chiropractors could bring dead people back to life was not properly diagnosed or treated in the months before he fatally stabbed a nurse manager at a country hospital, a court has heard.

Matthew Peter Loughrey was a voluntary patient suffering from acute schizophrenia at Bloomfield Hospital in January when he walked into a ward and attacked 20-year-old junior nurse Stephanie Pritchard with a knife.

When Ms Pritchard's manager, Bob Fenwick, 63, intervened, Loughrey stabbed him several times in the chest and the arm, causing fatal injuries.

Advertisement: Story continues below Mr Loughrey, 33, has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder on the grounds of mental illness.

Yesterday, the NSW Supreme Court heard that Mr Loughrey had not been given a firm diagnosis while at Bloomfield, was placed on a low dose of anti-psychotic medication and placed in a low-supervision cottage.

''He was left to manage as best he could with the low level of supervision that this cottage provided,'' Justice Elizabeth Fullerton said.

''It does appear from the collective view of the psychiatrists [who assessed Mr Loughrey after the stabbing] that the accused wasn't properly or adequately diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia and his manifest behaviour on the day is explained by that confluence of factors.''

The trial, being heard by Justice Fullerton without a jury due to Mr Loughrey's mental state, heard that his behaviour had been increasingly disruptive before the attack.

He had attributed this to the reduced dose of medication he had been given. He was reportedly angry and unhappy at the level of treatment he was getting at Bloomfield.

Earlier, the court heard that he believed that his victim could be brought back to life by the local chiropractor, whom he thought was a witch doctor.

He was reported to have told police: ''I believe in chiropractors … I think they're witch doctors.''

''He believed people who he hurt wouldn't suffer, that they could be revived and not suffer any nasty injuries,'' Justice Fullerton said.

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