Narita Bahra QC, leading Daniel Chadwick, secured a Special Verdict of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity for Ernest Grusza, who was suffering from a rare type of psychotic episode when he killed his mother, Wieslawa Mierzejeska in February and mutilated her body, cutting it into 11 parts.
During the trial the court heard how Ms Mierzejeska had previously attempted to have her son sectioned under the Mental Health Act after his mental health deteriorated in January 2021, but was told “there was nothing that could be done”.
Judge Mr Justice Fraser told jurors, before they retired to consider their verdict: “You may come to the conclusion that there were failures in this case by the agencies to whom she turned for assistance.
“You know that she tried to get help from social services, from her GP, by dialling 111, and she tried to get help from the police.
“None of those agencies gave her the help that she sought but you are not to hold any of those failures by those agencies against this defendant.”
The prosecution abandoned reliance on a forensic psychiatrist as an expert witness after Narita and Daniel exposed his non-compliance with expert evidence rules and ensuing disclosure issues.
The defence application to the court to comment upon and/or invite an inquiry into the expert psychiatric evidence obtained by the prosecution was successful.
Securing a verdict of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity is very rare in the UK. Statistics suggest that there are only a very small number of successful insanity pleas each year in the Crown Court (around 4%).
Narita has been instructed in a number of high-profile cases in which disclosure failings by prosecuting authorities have been unmasked. She co-wrote the book ‘Tackling Disclosure in the Criminal Courts – A Practitioner’s Guide’ with Don Ramble. The book provides practical guidance when considering issues of disclosure in criminal proceedings.