Sydney Scientology stabber 'mentally ill'

A teenager who fatally stabbed a man at the Australasian Scientology headquarters was mentally ill.
A teenager who fatally stabbed a man at the Australasian Scientology headquarters was mentally ill.

A teenager trying to recover deleted pornographic and violent data from his portable media player was mentally ill when he stabbed a man to death at the Australasian Scientology headquarters in Sydney's north.

The Taiwanese national in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday was not held criminally responsible for the stabbing death of Chih-Jen (Aaron) Yeh, 24, on January 3, 2019 in Chatswood.

Justice Hament Dhanji delivered the same special verdict for the charge of wounding Shannan Vaughan with intention to cause him grievous bodily harm, after the teenager was deemed unfit for trial.

The teenager was suffering from schizophrenia when he armed himself and yelled in Mandarin for a man to help him recover his mp3 data "otherwise I'll kill everyone," the court was told.

At 16 the accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lived with his mother in Chatswood from December 2018.

As a child he was diagnosed with an emotional disorder and autism, and his mother came to believe leaving Taiwan to study the Church of Scientology abroad "may be good for my son," according to court documents.

But after three days of classes the teenager fought with teachers and disagreed with lessons, and was given odd jobs on the grounds.

On January 1, 2019, his mother was told by church staff that she should delete novels containing pornographic and violent content on her son's MP3 player, some of which referenced Hitler.

After she erased the content while he slept he approached her the following evening in class and threatened: "It was you who deleted my data, I'll give you ten seconds to recover it".

He then struck his mother over the head, grabbed her by the throat and pursued her across the room where she cowered.

Eventually he was walked back to his room where another worker "Steve" said he would help him recover his missing files the following day.

CCTV footage captured the accused on January 3 walking across the grounds at midday carrying a knife about 4.5cm wide, and 14.6cm long in his shorts pocket, hidden under his shirt at times.

Security manager Mr Vaughan approached him with a Mandarin translator, and Mr Yeh joined soon after.

The accused spoke with the group for 20 minutes demanding to speak with Steve, but was refused as he was in another meeting.

Following 15 seconds of silence he slashed at Mr Vaughan who blocked what he thought was a punch, sustaining a gash on his hand.

The teen then stabbed Mr Yeh who was heard making a "gurgling sound," while clutching his neck, before the female translator ran to reception for help.

He continued to swing at Mr Vaughan who evaded the knife before a nearby gardener intervened and attempted to block his movements with a leaf-blower.

Emergency services were called and more people approached, one witness hearing words to the effect: "I need to find a man named Steve. I'll give you two minutes to find him otherwise I'll kill everyone here," in Mandarin.

The teenager kept swinging his knife until police arrived and arrested him about 12.36pm.

Mr Yeh was pronounced dead in hospital.

Two experts later assessed the accused and found he had been suffering from a psychotic episode and lacked the capacity to understand his actions were wrong.

Symptoms included hallucinations telling him to kill people, and grandiose delusions his mp3 player contained blueprints for a mechanical arm that could replace workers in Taiwan.

He remains in a mental health ward under observation, and may eventually be repatriated to Taiwan.

Australian Associated Press