Psychiatric report sees murder trial stalled

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THE murder trial of a Polish national accused of killing a retired university lecturer has been postponed after a report showed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pawel Rodak, 21, had his murder trial put off at the High Court in Livingston yesterday so the Crown could investigate his mental health at the time that, by his own admission, he killed retired statistician Roger Gray, 64.

Rodak’s counsel David Burns QC had asked judge Lord Bannatyne that the case be adjourned after a defence psychiatric report found Rodak suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Polish national has already admitted the culpable homicide of the former Heriot-Watt lecturer, but his plea was rejected by the Crown.

Mr Burns said there had been certain developments from meetings earlier this week between Rodak and a psychiatrist brought in by the defence.

He said: “There has been further information in relation to apparent treatment he received in Poland as a child and teenager and resulted in a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“That and other information has caused the psychiatrist to review his diagnosis from earlier this year, and led him to be of the view that Mr Rodak had, and had at the time in March, post-traumatic stress disorder.”

He said that he had informed the Crown of these findings, and the information was passed on to Dr John Crichton, consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Orchard Clinic, Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

He said the doctor, who is to be called as a Crown witness, did not “respect” the findings. Mr Burns added: “It may be Dr Crichton may have to review his findings in regards to post-traumatic stress disorder.”

He made a motion to adjourn the trial as he thought it “crucial” to investigate the findings further, in the “interests of justice”.

Advocate depute Pino Di Emidio, prosecuting, said that in Dr Crichton’s opinion it was “very important for him to see the records which exist”.

He said: “It might be of considerable importance to the central issue of this case.”

He said there would be a number of psychiatric experts and psychologists required for the trial.

Lord Bannatyne said: “I am satisfied that it is appropriate that this should be adjourned in the interests of justice.”

There will be a further preliminary hearing in the case on March 29, 2012, at the High Court in Edinburgh to check the status of reports, before a trial at the High Court in Livingston on May 8.

Rodak, who was assisted in court by a translator, is currently detained at Polmont’s Young Offenders’ Institution.

It is alleged that on March 18 or 19 at Mr Gray’s flat in Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh, he murdered the lecturer by repeatedly striking him on the head and body with knives or similar instruments.

The Polish national faces a further charge that between March 18 and 24 he attempted to defeat the ends of justice at addresses throughout the city.

He is said to have turned on the gas supply to the rings of a gas hob within Mr Gray’s home without igniting the gas, allowing gas to escape into the house. He is alleged to have then lit a candle and left the lit candle within a bottle near to the cooker with the intent of causing an explosion and fire within the house.

Rodak is said to have done this to destroy evidence linking him to the crime, and it is claimed he endangered the lives of residents of the building and adjoining buildings by doing this.

He is also said to have removed a number of items from Mr Gray’s home and disposed of them in a bin in the city’s Brougham Place.

He faces a further charge that he removed the clothing he wore during the crime and concealed it.

Mr Gray had lived alone for the past 12 years in the large detached stone-built villa in one of Scotland’s richest postcode districts, which had been split into flats.