Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Accused ANU baseball bat attacker likens psychotic episode to Star Wars

A man who attacked Australian National University (ANU) students with a baseball bat had violent fantasies and a sense of a higher dark purpose which he likened to the Star Wars character Luke Skywalker, a Canberra court has heard.

Alex Ophel, 18, is facing four attempted murder charges and several charges of assault, after he attacked members of a class shortly after he entered the room on August 25.

Allegations put to the court today also suggest he had searched online whether hitting someone in the head with a baseball bat could kill, ISIS beheadings and ACT murder laws.

He asked for bail in the ACT Magistrates Court so he could be placed in a dedicated mental health facility instead of jail.

Mr Ophel's father told the court his son had experienced a first-time psychotic episode that had caught everyone by surprise.

Psychiatrist Bree Wyeth said Mr Ophel had eventually responded to medication but needed other therapies that were not so readily available in prison.

She said to get the best outcome to prevent future violence, the mental health facility was a much better option.

"I think he's quite vulnerable in custody," Ms Wyeth said.

Prosecutor Sarah Gul quizzed Dr Wyeth about reports on Mr Ophel.

These suggested he had planned the incident with the aim of killing everyone there, that he had fantasies about raping women, and that he thought he had a higher purpose to harm others.

Dr Wyeth said the symptoms were linked to his initial state before treatment.

"With effective treatment I am quite confident it won't come back," she said.

But Ms Gul raised concerns about security levels at the mental health facility and urged the court not to grant bail, saying no-one could be confident the community would be safe.

"This was in the context of a quiet young man and no-one saw it coming," Ms Gul said.

Magistrate Margaret Hunter will deliver her decision on bail next week.

Original Article

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