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Graham Veitch’s murder trial postponed

Sheriff’s officers place handcuffs on Graham Veitch before escorting him to the lockup after his murder trial adjourned Thursday.
Sheriff’s officers place handcuffs on Graham Veitch before escorting him to the lockup after his murder trial adjourned Thursday. - Tara Bradbury

Key witness unavailable for next number of weeks

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Graham Veitch’s murder trial has been adjourned for at least six weeks, as the defence waits for one of their key witnesses.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Nizar Ladha is unexpectedly unavailable for the next number of weeks, the court heard Thursday. As a result, the trial was adjourned until Wednesday morning, when a date for the trial’s continuation will be set.

“I know it’s important for everyone involved that this happens sooner rather than later,” said Justice Sandra Chaytor.

Veitch, 21, is accused of murdering 55-year-old David Collins — his mother’s partner — in the family’s Logy Bay home on Dec. 18, 2016 by striking him in the head with a hammer. He has pleaded not guilty, though he acknowledged in interviews with police that he had struck Collins, and his lawyers intend to argue for a verdict of not criminally responsible due to severe mental illness.

The Crown is not expected to contest that argument.

An agreed statement of facts presented to the court at the start of the trial indicated Veitch had been suffering from depression and paranoia and had been hearing voices, having hallucinations and exhibiting bizarre behaviour in the months leading up to Collins' murder, according to his family members, an ex-girlfriend, a friend and former employers. This behaviour continued in the Waterford Hospital after his arrest.

Veitch has since been diagnosed with schizophrenia by three psychiatrists, including Dr. David Craig at Her Majesty's Penitentiary.

Veitch told an RNC investigator he was “trying to protect” his family because Collin was threatening him and “not a nice man,” the court has heard.

Veitch’s mother told investigators her son’s beliefs were unfounded, and she described Collins as a passive person.

Collins had managed a number of pharmacies throughout the province, and was regional pharmacy manager for Lawton's Drugs at the time of his death. Described as a compassionate man with a dedication to his work, Collins was recognized by Memorial University's pharmacy school earlier this year for his leadership within the local pharmacy community.

Veitch was originally charged with first-degree murder, but the charge was withdrawn and replaced with a second-degree murder charge when his trial began on Monday.


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