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Man who cut woman’s throat after claiming to hear voices of Metallica members found not guilty of attempted murder due to mental incompetence

Jai Penning has been found not guilty of attempted murder due to mental incompetence after he slashed a woman’s throat at an Adelaide shopping centre in 2018 after claiming to hear voices of Metallica members.

According to the ABC, Supreme Court Justice Sam Doyle handed down the verdict yesterday.

Mr Penning, 27, was suffering from psychosis due to his treatment-resistant schizophrenia at the time of the attack at the Parabanks Shopping Centre, at Salisbury, in July 2018.

The ABC reports the court was told Mr Penning had cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines in his system, and while “self-induced intoxication” exacerbated his psychosis, they were not a substantial cause of his conduct.

Justice Doyle said his long-standing hallucinations included hearing voices which he believed came from “members of heavy metal band Metallica, particularly the lead singer James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and also from the devil”.

“According to Mr Penning, he gradually became overwhelmed by these voices,” he said.

“They persuaded him to take his own life but before doing so, they instead encouraged or drove him to carry out the attack he did. The place and victim of the attack were essentially random.”

Justice Doyle said the victim, 30, was alone in the toilets when she heard someone enter about 7:30pm.

“When she emerged from the cubicle, she was confronted by a man, now known to be the defendant,” he said.

The Parabanks attack happened in the shopping centre’s toilets area.

“On the prosecution case, he said words to the effect, ‘are you going to call security’ and revealed he was holding a 30-centimetre kitchen knife, and the victim saying, ‘no, no, no’ and attempting to back away.

“The man then attacked her with the knife.

“While making some wild slashing motions with the knife, the man inflicted various wounds upon the victim, particularly on her face and hands as she attempted to fend him off.”

He said the accused then grabbed her as she tried to run for the door, and she dropped to her knees.

“The man then inflicted further wounds to her face and stabbing her in the back,” he said.

“Significantly, while holding her head back to expose her throat, he used the knife to make a deep cut across her neck. It was described in the medical evidence as an ‘ear-to-ear laceration of her neck’.”

Justice Doyle said the cleaner passed out for a short time, but regained consciousness and called for help on a radio.

He said the injuries were life-threatening and only “just missed vital areas in her neck and back”.

The court heard that in the days between the attack and his arrest, Mr Penning used the internet to search the terms “psychotic” and “plea of insanity”.

The ABC says Mr Penning is now being held at secure mental health facility James Nash House and Justice Doyle will determine his limiting term at a later date.

The court will impose a term which Mr Penning will serve under mental health supervision — the length of which he would have received if he was mentally competent.

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