Murder accused has ‘no evidence’ to support diminished responsibility defence, doctor tells trial

  • london
  • February 3, 2023
  • Comments Off on Murder accused has ‘no evidence’ to support diminished responsibility defence, doctor tells trial
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A doctor has told a murder trial there is “no clear evidence” to support a man’s defence that he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time he killed a woman and her two-year-old daughter.

Andrew Innes, 52, has admitted killing Bennylyn Burke, 25, and toddler Jellica and burying them under his kitchen floor but has denied murder by putting forward a defence of lacking criminal responsibility and diminished responsibility.

He is currently on trial for murder at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The jury had previously been told that Innes was taking steroid medication for a condition and had not slept at the time of the deaths.

Bennylyn Burke, 25, and her two-year-old daughter, Jellica

On Friday, forensic psychiatrist Dr Gordon Cowan, 36, refuted that Innes had suffered steroid-induced psychosis, telling the court that he found “no clear evidence of a mental disorder”.

Innes told jurors the previous day that he saw Ms Burke as a hybrid between his estranged wife and another former partner who dumped him by text, and that led to him launching the fatal attack.

Dr Cowan said: “It’s clear he held resentment towards his ex-partners and this lady in front of him, in some way, reminded him of these ladies and he became angry, uncontrollably angry.”

Police activity at Innes’s house in Dundee in March 2021

Dr Cowan highlighted that Innes had changed his defence a number of times.

He reportedly told one psychiatrist that Ms Burke attacked him, the court heard. On another occasion he said he heard a voice in his head, reportedly saying: “I think the other guy wanted me to get angry and asked me to kill her. I said don’t be stupid, she’s done nothing wrong.”

Read more:

Andrew Innes admits killing Bennylyn and Jellica Burke but denies murder

Toddler ‘killed during game of hide and seek’, court hears

Andrew Innes told police officer: ‘She’s under the floor’

Dr Cowan did agree it was “not impossible” to rule out steroid-induced psychosis, but it was “extremely unlikely”.

He concluded there was “no evidence” to support Innes’s diminished responsibility defence.

Speaking about Innes’s mental state, Dr Cowan said: “In my opinion, on balance, I don’t think there was evidence he was impaired.”

Andrew Innes earlier admitted that he killed Jellica two or three days after he killed her mother

A joint minute of agreed evidence between prosecutors and the defence team was read out to the jury at the start of the trial.

It was accepted that Innes stabbed Ms Burke, from Bristol, on the body with a knife, as well as repeatedly striking her on the head with a hammer and the handle of the blade.

It was also accepted that Innes asphyxiated Jellica before burying both bodies under the kitchen floor of his property.

Innes denies further charges of raping a primary school-aged child and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Bennylyn Burke was hit with a hammer and stabbed

All of the alleged incidents are said to have taken place at Innes’s house in Troon Avenue, Dundee, between 20 February and 5 March 2021.

The trial, before Lord Beckett, continues.