Nicholas Layman found not criminally responsible for N.L. soccer field stabbing

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WATCH: A judge has ruled a young man was not criminally responsible for stabbing a boy during a soccer practice in a St. John's suburb. As Ross Lord reports, the trial wasn't about laying blame, but rather, highlighting the lack of resources for people with mental illness – Jan 20, 2016

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.

READ MORE: Lawyer for N.L. soccer field stabbing suspect relates to mental health condition

It all happened in full view of dozens of horrified children and parents.

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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.

READ MORE: Nicholas Layman fit to stand trial for N.L. soccer field stabbing

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.

“The biggest thing now is [to] make sure there’s changes and something there for others who are going through this,” she said. “I’m still getting calls at my own home, [from] people who are going through similar things that we have gone through and they have nowhere to turn and there’s no help. So, there’s definitely something [that] has to be done.”
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READ MORE: N.L. soccer field stabbing prompts mental health support questions

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