The confessed killer of 60-year-old Mullumbimby man John Foss has been acquitted in the Supreme Court on the grounds of mental illness.
Justice Elizabeth Fullerton handed down her judgment yesterday, ruling that James Andrew Mitchell, 54, be held in custody until a proper mental health assessment can be made.
Mitchell deliberately drove his van at Foss, who was on his motorised bicycle, on Coolamon Scenic Drive on January 3 this year, killing him.
The court heard how the two met at Alcoholics Anonymous and how Foss had helped support Mitchell through difficult times but that there had been a falling out.
Justice Fullerton said she hoped Foss’s family understood that it was not the role of the courts to imprison those not of sound mind.
Outside the court, Mr Foss’s partner Nanette Turner said ‘all the signs were there’ regarding Mitchell’s illness and the mental health system had failed him.
She said Foss, a former successful landscape gardener, had beaten alcoholism, moved to the north coast and was enjoying the best years of his life when the accident occurred.
Foss had opened up a motorised bicycle business, Fosscati, and was a regular volunteer at the Brunswick Heads Marine Rescue, where he had been helping out on the morning of the day he died.
‘I think he died at the peak of his life healthwise… he was extremely happy that day,’ Ms Turner told media outside the court.
‘He was a loveable man… it’s left a huge void… one that can never be filled really.’