‘I Thought My Son Was The Devil’: Father Acquitted Of Killing Son Due To Schizophrenia

Published July 24, 2019

"The child was trying to tear my soul apart. I knew it was the right thing to do."

Australian Father With Stabbed Son

FacebookThe man was found not guilty of murder due to reasons of mental health. His family told him they loved him as he was taken away for evaluation.

An Australian man accused of stabbing his son to death because he thought he was the devil has been found not guilty of murder due to mental illness. According to 7 News, the 38-year-old man was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2003.

Two days before he stabbed his five-year-old son 76 times, the man’s mother and partner tried to admit him to a hospital, but were turned away when there were no more beds available. The mentally ill father used a brown kitchen knife after the two women left the house, killing his son on June 8, 2018.

Judge Peter Hidden explained that the man, who can’t be named because it would identify the five-year-old victim, had no idea what he was doing at the time because he was in the midst of a psychotic episode. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia 15 years prior.

The boy was asleep in pajamas on a mattress in his parents’ bedroom when his father attacked. It was apparent from the very beginning that the father was, at the very least, cognitively impaired. When police arrived, he told them:

“I just murdered my son. I feel sick. I thought my son was the devil. Well, I know he is, but he’s dead now, at least I think he is dead.”

Five Year Old Stab Victim

FacebookThe boy’s grandmother expressed serious concern before the tragic incident that she’d one day wake up and find her grandson dead.

In the mere days leading up to this tragic loss of life, the boy’s father admitted that he was having ominous thoughts about his son. The kid’s grandmother told a mental health clinician that she was so disturbed by what her son had been saying that she spent her nights tossing and turning in bed.

“I worry that I will wake up and find my grandson dead,” she told the clinician at the time.

Judge Hidden said in court that the woman found the boy lying face down on the mattress and realized what had happened. She turned to her son, in shock, and said: “My god, what have you done?”

After carrying the boy’s lifeless body to her car and driving off, she presumably thought time was of the essence and pulled over to attempt CPR. But it was too late. When she called emergency services for help, they rushed the child to the Children’s Hospital in Westmead, where he was pronounced dead.

For the unnamed perpetrator, this all occurred under a deluge of cognitive impairment, where real-life consequences and reality were seemingly rooted in a religious mission to save both the boy’s and his own soul. At the very least, that is what he told authorities once the deed was done.

“The child was trying to tear my soul apart,” the man said. “I knew it was the right thing to do but I didn’t know how much time we had until doomsday.”

Australian Stab Victims Grandmother

7News/TwitterThe boy’s grandmother tried CPR on the child, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead at the hospital minutes later.

In a staggering display of empathy and compassion, the family showed no profuse disdain toward the father during court proceedings. Only when Judge Hidden read the details of the boy’s death aloud — including the fact that he was stabbed 76 times — did relatives cry out.

While comforting a woman in tears, one man screamed, “Do you really have to say this?”

The trial was adjourned for a short break in order to let tempers die down. After everyone had regrouped and proceedings recommenced, the 38-year-old was eventually taken back into custody. His family audibly let him know that everything was alright — that they loved him — and that it wasn’t his fault.

On that fateful day in June 2018, emergency services demanded to know who had done this to the boy. His grandmother willingly told them, but also begged them: “Please don’t hurt him.”

Two established forensic psychiatrists issued their reports to the court in order to establish how sane or disturbed the perpetrator was while committing the act. One doctor’s opinion was that the father had been operating under a “delusional belief” that his son was, indeed, the devil.

Judge Hidden described the entirety of the incident as a “tragic case.” The father, meanwhile, is being held in a mental health screening unit. It’s uncertain just how long he’ll be observed, but one thing is certain — the fault lay in his condition, not in his character.

After reading about the schizophrenic father who tragically stabbed his son to death, learn the true story of Elisabeth Fritzl, who spent 24 years in her father’s prison. Then, read about the Moscow teen who took a selfie with the body of a teacher he murdered before killing himself.

Marco Margaritoff
A staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff has also published work at outlets including People, VICE, and Complex, covering everything from film to finance to technology. He holds dual bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a master's degree from New York University.