‘Special verdict’ for Kyogle man accused of inciting murder
A KYOGLE man accused of inciting people to "ambush and kill" police has been found not guilty due to mental illness.
Keith Knights, 39, from Eden Creek, was on trial in the NSW District Court fighting charges of soliciting, encouraging, persuading or attempting to persuade a person to murder a police officer and sending a document threatening death or actual bodily harm.
The allegations against Mr Knights centred around a 40-minute video he published on Facebook in November 2017 in which he said people had "every right as free citizens" to ambush and kill NSW "corrupt" police officers after they made his life a "f--king hell".
In the video, which was played at the trial, Mr Knights referred to "hobbling" and "castrating" police and said he was "ready to mount an attack".
In addition to police, the court heard Mr Knights was also dissatisfied with staff at Kyogle Local Court and Lismore District Court.
On Wednesday, Judge Warwick Hunt handed down a "special verdict" acquitting Mr Knights on both charges, citing psychiatric evidence and agreement between the prosecution and the accused's defence team.
"I'm persuaded that Mr Knights at the relevant time suffered from a disease of the mind that excuses him from criminal liability," Judge Hunt said in an ex tempore judgment.
"Mr Knights is not guilty by reason of his mental illness."
While he acquitted Mr Knights, the judge noted that the legal elements of the offence was made out, saying he was satisfied as to both the "actus reus and mental element on count one".
The judge convicted Mr Knights on a separate charge of possessing a prohibited bullet proof vest which was found by police on his property during a search, but imposed no penalty.
He said the item was removed "in pristine condition" and unlike other types of prohibited weapons had limited potential to "harm or kill", while also noting Mr Knights' remorse.
Judge Hunt ordered that Mr Knights be detained a Long Bay hospital where he is currently a "forensic patient" or at another facility as determined by the mental health review tribunal.
"I wish you luck," Judge Hunt said to Mr Knights at the close of the trial.