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Mum kills son to expel evil spirit

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An Adelaide woman killed her two-year-old son by standing on his mouth and chest because she believed he had been taken over by an evil spirit, a court has heard.

Rachael Cherie Hadley, 23, was found not guilty in the South Australian Supreme Court on Friday of murdering the boy, with Justice Kevin Duggan finding her mentally incompetent at the time.

Duke Hadley died from asphyxiation with Justice Duggan saying his mother believed she was saving him, rather than hurting him.

"She believed she was expelling an evil spirit from him and that she expected him to recover," the judge said in summarising two medical reports.

"The accused did not appear to understand that her actions were harming her son, but instead that she was saving him, as she believed he had been taken over by an evil spirit."

In his report forensic psychiatrist Craig Raeside said Hadley had been hearing voices, showing signs of paranoia and expressing delusional ideas for some years.

He diagnosed her as suffering from manic psychosis and said he had seen few cases as severe.

The crown conceded Hadley was mentally impaired at the time of the killing, exactly one year ago.

It said the woman was unable to reason about the wrongfulness of her actions.Justice Duggan adjourned Hadley's case until December 16 ahead of receiving reports on whether the woman should be detained or released under supervision.


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