Crucial evidence of psychiatrists

Tony Martin Appeal
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The Independent Online

Abuse as a child had caused Tony Martin to develop a paranoid personality disorder – evidence of which was to save him yesterday from a life prison term.

The defence painted a bleak picture of the state of Martin's mind but crucially failed to convince the Appeal Court that it was ground for self defence. Instead, the court ruled, the vivid portrait of Martin that had been sketched supported the claim that he committed the killing while suffering from a paranoid personality disorder – on the ground of diminished responsibility.

The farmer, who slept surrounded by teddy bears, considered his dilapidated, junk-ridden house a safe haven from a hostile world.

His defence QC, Michael Wolkind, said the legacy of childhood abuse was depression and a paranoid personality disorder that impaired his judgement and willpower on the night of the burglary. "In particular, the paranoid disorder meant he is more likely to have felt his life was in danger than the average person," he said.

The defence team called on the evidence of psychiatrists. Dr Philip Joseph, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, said Martin had "a lifelong fear of being molested that left him unable to form intimate relationships".

Jackie Craissati, head of forensic and clinical psychiatric services at Oxleas NHS Trust in south London, said Martin perceived the world as "persecutory and hostile".

Rejecting the psychiatric evidence as a ground for self defence, the Court of Appeal judges said: "The position as to the fresh evidence relating to diminished responsibility is different. Here the evidence is admissible and relevant. The jury did not have the opportunity to consider this issue ... The conviction for murder must therefore be quashed."