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Friday, June 22, 2012

Woman killed man she believed was paedophile

6-22-2012 Australia:

A 22-YEAR-OLD Frenchwoman was "floridly psychotic" when voices in her head told her to kill an elderly Perth man last year, a court has been told.

Valentina Strabach, a paranoid schizophrenic, last year pleaded not guilty, on grounds of insanity, to murdering Murray Castlemaine, 79.

Today, Strabach's treating psychologist at Graylands Hospital, Mirchea Schineanu, told the WA Supreme Court the symptoms of her illness had reached a crescendo when she killed Mr Castlemaine in January 2011.

Strabach has admitted killing Mr Castlemaine in his South Perth home but says she believed she was doing the right thing morally because she had formed the belief he was a paedophile.

"She was attaching erroneous conclusions to things she'd seen and heard," Dr Schineanu told the court.

"In her sick mind, in the world she perceived through psychotic eyes, she was not (feeling) guilty ... because she believed she was doing the right thing."

Strabach was "floridly psychotic" when she committed the murder and was suffering from auditory and visual hallucinations, Dr Schineanu said.

The Frenchwoman did not have control over her actions because the voices in her head that compelled her meant she was effectively under duress, he said.

Dr Schineanu said Strabach had stated she felt possessed "like fire came to me, the voices saying `Kill him, kill him.'"

"She was irrational," he said. "She couldn't have had control over her actions."

After Strabach murdered Mr Quartermaine, whom she'd met at a bus stop, she said she felt like a "detective" and was a "hero" because she believed she had identified and killed a paedophile.

Asked by Strabach's lawyer Seamus Rafferty whether she was capable of making the rational decision to remove evidence - including singeing off the victim's pubic hair with a lighter and a can of aerosol - Dr Schineanu said her reasoning was too impaired.

It was "a bizarre caricature of removing evidence".

Strabach had alarmed her family with increasingly odd behaviour in the lead-up to the murder, the court heard.

The night before, she had argued with relatives on a visit to Cottesloe Beach because she didn't want to leave until she had caught crickets and eaten them, as the voices in her head demanded.

And when she didn't obey the voices in her head, they became more intense, Dr Schineanu said.

Strabach's relatives had previously observed her collecting leaves, which she believed carried messages from "the other life" and crickets, which she thought could be used to make spells.

She later told Dr Schineanu, in the mental hospital, that she had invented her own religion, which proved her reasoning remained faulty, he said.

The court also heard Strabach visited Perth to get away from France and her father, whom voices had told her to kill.

Dr Schineanu said Strabach had told him: "For the last year it was hell. I kept hearing the voices."

"The voices were telling me to kill my father - that's why I came to Australia."

But another voice - which she believed was a French witch - had warned her that something bad would happen if she went to Australia.

The trial continues. ..Source..age by AAP

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