A university student who took LSD and became psychotic before killing his 18-year-old girlfriend, who she feared was a demon, has been jailed for 20 years.
Newcastle High Court judge Richard Cavanagh said Jordan Brodie Miller, 22, had viciously attacked his partner of two years, Emerald Wardle, when he was delusional and suffering from a psychotic disorder caused by the temporary effects of his drug use.
Judge Cavanagh said Miller believed he had been cursed and had to kill either himself or Ms Wardle to lift the curse.
Jordan Brodie Miller, 22, (right) was jailed for 20 years after murdering his girlfriend Emerald Wardle
“This was his first episode of psychosis, although those effects were only temporary, they were acting on him at the time he killed Ms Wardle,” the judge said on Thursday.
Miller, who was 20 at the time, admitted strangling Ms Wardle, 18, but pleaded not guilty to murdering her, claiming he had been in a psychotic state, had no intention of harming her and did not could be held criminally liable.
A jury deliberated for 12 hours in June after a two-week trial before finding Miller guilty of murder, rejecting his claims that the killing was caused by an underlying form of undiagnosed schizophrenia.
Crown prosecutor Lee Carr SC had argued that Miller’s drug use and the lack of early signs of a psychotic illness pointed to the killing being drug-induced, meaning Miller was guilty of murder as it had been his choice to use substances.
While suffering a psychotic episode which he claims was caused by the effects of LSD, Miller believed Ms Wardle, 18, (pictured) was a ‘demon’ who needed to be killed
Justice Cavanagh said on Thursday that Miller had a genuine psychotic belief that Ms Wardle was some kind of demon that needed to be killed.
‘What this means is not capable of rational or logical explanation. This is because it was not a rational thought or belief.
That said, the only finding available is the perpetrator who intended to kill Ms Wardle. The fact is that he strangled her. However, this does not mean that the attack on Mrs Wardle was some kind of planned event.’
The judge said a letter written by Miller in August to the court and Ms Wardle’s family showed he was remorseful.
“I want it to be known that in my right mind I would never have done anything like this,” Miller wrote.
“I loved Emerald so much.”
The jury found Miller (right) guilty of murder, rejecting his claims that the killing was caused by an underlying form of undiagnosed schizophrenia
Police had found Ms Wardle’s body in the ensuite bathroom of the master bedroom of a house in Metford, near Maitland, on June 20, 2020.
Miller told police: ‘If you go inside and go into the bathroom, it’s in there, the demon. Help me, help me, the demon has got hold of me, help me.’
After his arrest, Miller, a regular weed smoker from the age of 14 with no history of mental illness or violence, admitted to taking half a tablet of LSD 11 days earlier and claimed to have reached spiritual enlightenment, but Emerald had ‘tried to suck the life out of me’.
When police arrived at the scene at 1:20 a.m., Miller was standing outside near the gate wearing sweatpants and no shirt or shoes. He ran towards the officers and asked for help.
Mrs Wardle’s mother (pictured) said knowing her daughter died, ‘feeling terrified and alone’ is a ‘demon that will stay with (her) forever’
Ms Wardle’s mother, Tania Simshauser, upset at the way her daughter was characterized during Miller’s trial, told the judge in her emotional victim impact statement how Miller was the real monster, not her daughter.
‘She wasn’t a demon. She was an innocent young woman who was born my daughter but became my very best friend,” Simshauser said.
‘However, I will forever live with demons in my mind.
‘As I approach sleep every night I am haunted by demons.
‘As a mother I know my little girl died feeling terrified and alone and that is a demon that will stay with me forever.”
Miller will be eligible for parole after serving 13 years.
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