Hong Kong courts

Electric drill killer not murderer because he had drug-induced mental disorders, court hears

Psychiatrists claim Safdar Husnain’s responsibility for the crime was diminished as he believed his girlfriend had turned into a witch who would kill him if he did not act first

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2018, 7:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 3:05pm

Lawyers for a security guard accused of murdering his girlfriend with an electric drill tabled a five-part defence on Wednesday calling for the jury to reduce the charge to manslaughter or even acquit him.

The argument emerged as counsels concluded their cases in the murder trial over the death of Andrea Bayr, 25, who left behind four children after she was choked and stabbed in the face with a 15.5cm (six-inch) electric drill on March 29, 2016.

The High Court heard her boyfriend Safdar Husnain, 28, had admitted to killing her after taking drugs that made him see a snake in the moon and hear voices that warned of his demise at the hands of his lover.

But psychiatrists found that he was suffering from drug-induced mental disorders, which they said would diminish his responsibility for the killing.

Dr Kavin Chow Kit-wan, summoned by the prosecution to rebut the defence finding, concluded that Husnain had substance-induced psychotic disorder and stimulant-use disorders in relation to cannabis and methamphetamine, more commonly known as Ice. It was her view that “if Husnain did not take the substance on the night of offence, he would not have experienced psychotic symptoms which led to the subsequent killing”.

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Defence counsel David Boyton on Wednesday invited the seven-member jury to consider a five-part defence: three parts of which related to the three mental disorders identified and the remaining two on manslaughter by unlawful act and self defence.

“I think at the end of the day, this is the case where the defendant is suffering from diminished responsibility,” Boyton said. “You should convict him of manslaughter, and not murder.”

The counsel claimed that his client had no intention to hurt Bayr, nor could he foresee that he could have hurt her. “The defendant’s mind was so affected by the drugs he could not have formed the intention to kill,” he said.

He also argued that his client was acting in self defence, believing that his girlfriend had turned into a witch – with a long face and bulging eyes and teeth – who would kill him if he did not kill her first. If so, Husnain should be “acquitted completely”, Boyton said.

But prosecutor Terence Wai Hon-hei countered that all the psychiatric findings in the case were based on Husnain’s tale of seeing visual hallucinations for the first time on the night Bayr was killed, which he said had been too convenient and incidental.

“The foundation on which [the psychiatrists] built their opinion was shaky at best,” he told the jury.

Gruesome details emerge in trial of security guard accused of killing girlfriend with electric drill

The prosecutor also drew the jury’s attention to a police testimony which revealed that Husnain kept shaking his head and repeating “sorry” after he was subdued by officers who witnessed the electric drill attack.

“What was there to be sorry about if he genuinely believed he killed a witch?” Wai asked. “Unless he knew what he had done was wrong.”

Wai said: “It was very clear the defendant knew what he was doing. He knew what he was doing was wrong.”

Mr Justice Kevin Zervos will direct the jury on Friday.