Court quashes guilty verdict of man with mental disability

Alfred 'Alfie' Sitters was in October found guilty of raping a woman aged 18 as she walked home from a party in 2017. That conviction has now been quashed.
Alfred 'Alfie' Sitters was in October found guilty of raping a woman aged 18 as she walked home from a party in 2017. That conviction has now been quashed. Ross Irby

HE IS illiterate, unemployable, and cannot even remember how he pleaded when charged with rape.

In what has now been ruled a miscarriage of justice, Alfred Sitters stood trial in October and was found guilty of raping a woman aged 18.

Bundaberg District Court heard Mr Sitters, 33, drank a bottle of vodka daily and walked the streets at night.

He was accused of raping a teenage girl who was walking home from a party by herself one night.

After the jury found Mr Sitters guilty of rape and indecent assault, his sentencing was adjourned.

That was done so the courts could get information on his mental and physical capacity.

All the while, he was remanded in custody.

But Queensland Court of Appeal said there was now material suggesting Mr Sitters may not be suitable for prison.

A psychiatrist, psychologist, and clinical neuropsychologist were asked to assess Mr Sitters.

The appeal court judgment, published on Wednesday, said Mr Sitters "may not have been fit to plead and stand trial”.

He was found to rank lower than 99.8 per cent of people on verbal reasoning tasks.

A psychiatrist said Mr Sitters needed help with "all activities of daily living” including hygiene.

The psychiatrist also said Mr Sitters was "very vulnerable to exploitation in an adult male custodial environment”.

Mr Sitters, a disability support pensioner, could not "provide appropriate answers even to basic capacity testing questions”.

In a December 2 report, a psychologist said the Bundaberg man's IQ was "as well as or better” than only 1 per cent of people his age.

This IQ score "was consistent with mental retardation,” the new judgment added.

The court heard Mr Sitters was unable to work.

The psychologist said intellectual disability rendered Mr Sitters unfit for trial.

Mr Sitters could not understand court proceedings "even in a general fashion”, the psychologist added.

The appeal court quashed the rape conviction and the two indecent assault convictions.

New trials on all three counts were ordered.

Justice Philip Morrison said the next steps in the case were still to be decided.

Last year, when sentencing was adjourned, Judge William Everson said the case might be considered for the Mental Health Court. -NewsRegional

Topics:  appeal court buncourt bundaberg crime clinical neuropsychologist disability pensioner iq miscarriage of justice psychiatry psychology

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