1. For the accused, Stephen Bailey, to be found guilty of murder, the following elements needed to be established by the prosecution:
- the killing was unlawful – Bailey did not have had a lawful reason for killing his mother,
- malice aforethought existed – the defence claimed that Bailey was overwhelmed by his mental impairment and was not able to act with any reason
- Bailey was responsible for his mother’s death – Bailey’s actions caused his mother’s death (causation)
- the victim was a human being – Penelope was a person who was alive at the time of the murder
- Bailey wasof sound mind at the time the murder was committed – the defence claimed this was not the case
- Bailey was over the age of discretion – in Victoria, only people over the age of 10 can be charged with having committed a criminal offence
2. Stephen Bailey demonstrated mental impairment in terms of his behaviour when he was found by the police. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic and was in a state of severe psychosis when he killed his mother. Psychiatrist Dr Mark Ryan gave evidence that Bailey “… did know the nature and quality of his conduct but was, at the time of the offence, so overwhelmed by active psychosis that he was not able to reason with sense and composure as to the wrongfulness of his actions”.Justice Kaye said, “… the evidence does establish, on the balance of probabilities, that he did not know that his conduct was wrong, that is, that he was incapable of reasoning, with a moderate degree of sense and composure, as to whether his conduct, as perceived by reasonable people, was wrong.”
3. Bailey might have used self-defence as a defence to avoid being found guilty of murder. He might have argued that his actions were reasonable and necessary in defending himself, or even another person, from death or really serious injury. Alternatively, Bailey might have used automatism as a defence. He might have argued that he acted without conscious thought, that the act was committed as a result of muscle spasms or reflexes, or while not conscious by virtue of a state such as sleepwalking.
4. Responses will vary. For example, students might point out that the judge noted that “… the evidence does establish, on the balance of probabilities, that he did not know that his conduct was wrong, that is, that he was incapable of reasoning, with a moderate degree of sense and composure, as to whether his conduct, as perceived by reasonable people, was wrong.” Based on the evidence, it is difficult to find Bailey guilty – rather, it is fairly clear that he was suffering from a mental impairment.
5. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that besides the loss of Penny Bailey and her future dreams and aspirations, the family and friends of Ms Bailey will need to deal with grief, pain, anger, distress or emotional trauma. Friends and family may also need to deal with an ensuing investigation and court case, which can be stressful. Stephen Bailey himself will also be affected as he will need to live with the feeling of guilt that he has taken his mother’s life.
6. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that the costs associated with assistance to victims, as well as the identification, investigation and prosecution of crime will have an economic impact. The crime of murder can lead to the perception that there is an increase in violent crime across the community, resulting in a feeling across society that individuals and households are not safe. People can become anxious or fearful, particularly if they believe that they could become a victim.