For severing the jugular vein of an 11-year-old boy with a kitchen knife, Nicholas Layman could have been sent to prison.
Instead, Newfoundland Provincial Court judge Colin Flynn declared Layman not criminally responsible because, in his words, Layman was “suffering from a mental disorder to such an extent he was unable to understand what he did was morally wrong.
“As a result, I find that Mr. Layman is not guilty of the offences on account of mental disorder pursuant to S. 16 of the Criminal Code of Canada.”
At Layman’s trial, a psychiatrist testified voices in the now 21-year-old man’s head told him to attack the boy, at a soccer field in a St. John’s suburb, in September 2014.
It all happened in full view of dozens of horrified children and parents.
Only the intervention of two adults on the field — one a nurse — prevented the injured boy from bleeding to death.
The boy’s parents, speaking publicly for the first time Wednesday, agreed with the judge’s ruling, despite their son’s terrifying ordeal.
“We’re told our child is a miracle” said his mother, whose name is banned from publication, in order to protect the boy’s identity.
“He should have never made it through. He still has doctors’ appointments and that he has to go to.”
The boy also attends counselling for emotional trauma and has ongoing physiotherapy.
Layman had been diagnosed with schizophrenia one year before the attack, but didn’t get the support he needed. Friends even laughed at his delusions he suffered.
His parents say they didn’t get clear communication from mental health professionals regarding his treatment.
Doreen Layman, his stepmother, says when he stopped taking his medication there was nothing they could do about it because he was an adult.
Layman’s victim, now 12, is recovering but he has returned to playing soccer.
As for Layman, he’s been ordered to live in a psychiatric hospital indefinitely, pending the results of an annual review of his condition.
He’s said to be stable and taking his medication regularly to keep his psychosis at bay.
With a file from The Canadian Press