Deaf woman Georgia Fields unfit to stand trial for murder because of low intelligence, court told

11-07-2018 by admin

Psychologists assessed Georgia Fields as being on the borderline range of intellectual capacity. Photo: Eddie Jim Majority of experts say Georgia Fields would not be able to understand a trial. Photo: Joe Armao

Two-out-of-three mental health experts believed deaf and mute woman Georgia Fields – accused of taking part in the murder of a profoundly deaf man pushed over a second-floor balcony – was unfit to stand trial because of her low intelligence, a court has been told.

A special fitness-to-plead hearing held before a Supreme Court jury on Monday was told two psychologists had assessed Ms Fields as being on the borderline range of intellectual capacity.

They found she had an IQ of 75, and concluded she would be unable to understand or participate in any future trial.

Crown prosecutor Karen Argiropoulos told the jury on Monday that, despite a differing opinion from psychiatrist Dr Lester Walton who assessed Ms Fields and found she was fit to stand trial, the Crown agreed with the defence that Ms Fields should not stand trial.

Ms Argiropoulos said the most significant evidence to sway the Crown’s decision was Ms Fields’ low intelligence and her autistic-type behaviours.

Ms Fields, 20, who lives with her parents and twin sister at Ferntree Gully, and her co-accused, Jake Fairest and Warwick Toohey, are charged with murdering Robbie Wright.

Mr Wright fell 12 metres from a balcony outside his Ringwood apartment on January 15, 2015.

A neighbour heard Mr Wright scream and contacted the police.

Mr Wright, 36, who also suffered from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and had an intellectual disability, died in hospital three days later.

The trio allegedly confronted Mr Wright in his lounge room, restrained him and forced him out on to the balcony and over the hand rail.

Mr Fairest, who has severe cognitive and developmental disabilities following aggressive chemotherapy treatment for a brain tumour when he was seven, was found unfit to stand trial for murder after a special hearing on Friday before a Supreme Court jury.

A separate fitness to plead hearing for Mr Toohey will be held on Wednesday.

When Ms Fields appeared in the Supreme Court last year for a bail application, Justice Stephen Kaye said the Crown case against her appeared to be strong.

Ms Fields had been 19 at the time of the alleged murder and was in a relationship with Mr Toohey, who was nine years older.

Both are profoundly deaf and communicate through Auslan, the sign language for the Australian deaf community.

At the time of his death, Mr Wright was living with Mr Toohey at the Ringwood apartment but their relationship had deteriorated to such an extent that Mr Wright had placed a lock on his door to protect his possessions, Justice Kaye said.

The judge said it was alleged Mr Fairest and Mr Toohey had picked up Mr Wright and forced him over the handrail of the second-storey balcony while Ms Fields looked on.

“A neighbour heard a scream and observed Wright holding on to the ledge of the second-floor balcony and an unknown person holding his wrists,” the judge said.

“The neighbour then observed the unknown person let go of Wright, causing him to fall and strike his head.”

Justice Kaye said that after her arrest, Ms Fields gave a written account to police where she claimed “boyfriend got angry with the other guy so he pushed him over the balcony”.

The judge said Ms Fields later allegedly admitted to a friend on Facebook how the trio had pushed Mr Wright from the balcony.

She also allegedly told homicide detectives: “I thought he’d break an arm or a leg. I didn’t think he’d die. He’s truly dead. I’m so shocked.”

Previous court hearings have been told CCTV footage of the trio using Auslan on a train to Ringwood, in the foyer of Mr Wright’s apartment and in the lift on the way to confront him, formed part of the Crown case against them because the recordings suggested they had allegedly been planning the murder.

Ms Fields’ fitness-to-plead hearing continues.

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