April 20 at 07:00
A Deaf Melbourne man who murdered another by pushing him off a balcony, but was unfit to stand trial, will spend 25 years in custody. Last year a jury in a special hearing found Jake Fairest, 27, and friends Warwick Toohey and Georgia Fields murdered Robert Wright in 2015. Fairest, Toohey and Fields are profoundly deaf, as was Mr Wright, who also had epilepsy and cerebral palsy and reduced functionality in his left leg.
Fairest was on Thursday given an indefinite custodial supervision order, with a nominal period of 25 years, at a residential facility run by the Disability Forensic Assessment and Treatment Service. DFATS is overseen by the federal Department of Human Services and works with people with who show high-risk anti-social behaviour. “The best available option is a custodial supervision order,” Supreme Court Justice Jane Dixon said.
The three were found unfit to stand trial as Toohey, 30, and Fairest are intellectually disabled and Fields, 20, suffers from atypical autism with low intelligence. Robert Wright died after being pushed from a balcony in Nelson St, Ringwood.
A jury in a special hearing later found the trio had murdered Mr Wright in January 2015 by throwing the 36-year-old off the balcony of the Ringwood unit he shared with Toohey. The finding sparked an unprecedented legal conundrum as the court, the prosecution and separate defence lawyers considered whether they should be subject to custodial or non-custodial supervision. Toohey was in February given an indefinite custodial supervision order at a residential facility with a nominal period of 25 years. A decision on whether Fields will be subject to either a custodial or non-custodial supervision order is yet to be made.