Man who stabbed officer found not guilty

A man who stabbed a police officer in the chest with a knife, piercing his notebook instead of his heart, has been found not guilty because of mental illness.

Paul Henry Johnson, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was suffering from delusions of grandiosity and paranoia when he attacked Wollongong police officer Inspector Brian Wyver with a 30cm knife, Wollongong District Court heard yesterday.

Judge Paul Conlon handed down the not guilty verdict after considering evidence from a number of mental health experts, who told the court Johnson had a long-standing history of chronic mental illness that led him to believe he was the king of England, Ireland and Denmark.

The finding comes 12 months after Judge Conlon ruled Johnson was unfit to stand trial due to his mental health.

The 41-year-old was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and using a weapon to prevent arrest on November 13, 2010, after he allegedly assaulted a man and then violently attacked Inspector Wyver, who was investigating the complaint.

According to the brief of evidence tendered to court, Johnson punched a man in the face and pushed him into a wall at Thirroul Plaza on November 12 that year.

When police went to his Austinmer home the next night he barricaded himself inside, telling them: "I am the King of England, get off my property or you will be shot."

He later stabbed Inspector Wyver - but the knife only tore through his police shirt and business cards, before penetrating his notepad in his top left-hand pocket.

Yesterday the court heard Johnson's mental health had improved with treatment, although Judge Conlon noted "he still has some residual beliefs about his royal heritage ... and paranoid beliefs about the police".

Despite this, Judge Conlon said he was satisfied Johnson no longer posed a threat to public safety.

Johnson will continue a psychiatric treatment program until May 29, next year.

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