The lawyer representing the man accused of strangling a sleeping teenage boy in March 2021 has asked the jury for a not guilty verdict on the grounds of mental impairment.
In the closing remark, the lawyer of Chadley Sheridan, 25, pleaded with the jury not to find the man guilty of strangling the 16-year-old boy to death inside the boy’s home in Charlestown, near Newcastle, Australia, after midnight on March 16, 2021.
The lawyer said Sheridan experienced symptoms of psychosis in 2018 when he believed that the Chinese government was chasing him, the court heard on Monday. Olav Nielssen, a forensic psychologist, also provided evidence to the court that the man had “underlying psychotic illness which was exacerbated by drug use” during the alleged murder.
“The bizarre beliefs were that the Chinese government was somehow interested in him and following him,” court documents said. “And that he had some supernatural connection to God.”
While Sheridan’s involvement in the boy’s death was uncontested for both parties, they argued how much the drug contributed to his mental state leading to the alleged murder.
Sheridan moved to Newcastle to live with his sister a few months before the murder. He reportedly worked mowing lawns and gardening. His former boss described Sheridan as a “good kid” who would “turn up on time and did above and beyond” to the Supreme Court in Newcastle on Sept. 5.
The man’s sister noted that her brother was doing well weeks after moving in January 2021 but started using crystal methamphetamine in late February 2021, resulting in her kicking him out of her home.
Sheridan arrived at the home of an acquaintance on the evening of March 15. He was reportedly welcomed by the man, whose teen son, the victim, was sleeping in the other room. The father and another person left the house around 10 p.m., leaving Sheridan alone with the sleeping boy.
The father received a call from an “upset”-sounding Sheridan at around 11 p.m. Upon returning home, the man comforted Sheridan in the lounge for 45 minutes.
After comforting Sheridan, the father entered his son’s room to turn off the fan. That was when he found him lying on the floor with blood coming out of his mouth.
He immediately called out to the other person in the other room to call the emergency service as he performed CPR on the boy. Paramedics later arrived at their home but were unable to revive the teen.
Reports implied that Sheridan had already left when they discovered the body, as CCTV footage saw him leaving the unit at around 12:38 a.m. in a car.
Days before the alleged murder, Sheridan allegedly smoked and injected meth, the court heard. His brother, who picked him up the night before the incident, described him as “completely off.”
Sheridan’s sister said she spoke with her brother on the day of the murder and noticed that he sounded scared “like a little child.” She also said that she could not understand what he was saying on the phone.
The man was eventually tracked to a KFC car park in Thornton, Australia, roughly an hour after the incident. He was taken to the Calvary Mater Hospital and later to the police station, where he was charged with murder.
The drug test result on Sheridan reportedly found methamphetamines, benzodiazepine, MDMA and methadone in his system. The accused allegedly admitted to investigators that he used pillows, his hands and a cord from a pedestal fan for weapons.
Sheridan said he felt “very different and not himself” after taking drugs. He noted that he gets “f*cked up thought patterns,” given to him by the universe subconsciously and unconsciously, after working for a funeral center, where he was tasked to move dead bodies.
Sheridan said he never planned to kill the boy and that the act was “simply created.”
Although the relationship between Sheridan and the boy was unclear in recent reports, initial reports suggested that New South Wales Police confirmed the two knew each other, and 7News understood that Sheridan was the boy’s cousin. Neighbors who spoke to 7News described the victim, who had autism, as a “kind boy” who “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”