Personality disorder possible murder trigger

A PERSONALITY disorder may have contributed to Anthony Apps' murder of Christopher Lamb in 2003, the Supreme Court heard in Lismore yesterday.

In expert testimony, psychiatrist Robert Delaforce told the court Apps suffered schizophrenia and a personality disorder that made him paranoid and easily angered.

Dr Delaforce told the court that Apps' schizophrenia appeared to have played no part in the shotgun murder of Mr Lamb at a farmhouse near Maclean in November, 2003.

However, he said his personality disorder could have been a factor in the killing.

Apps has pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to murdering Lamb by shooting him in the head at close range with a shotgun.

Dr Delaforce agreed with defence counsel Chris Bruce that Apps' personality disorder could have been exacerbated by Mr Lamb's bi-polar disorder, which previous evidence had suggested was characterised by 'hyper' episodes when he would yell at people.

Asked if the personality disorder meant Apps posed a threat to the community at large, Dr Delaforce said: "Because it (the disorder) includes anti-social behaviour that's the problem; he has been an offender and that's the concern I would have.

"... I would say his schizophrenia must be treated forever ... but the main problem will be the personality disorder as expressed by anti-social behaviour.

"That can be difficult to control and that can re-occur."

Dr Delaforce said people suffering paranoia in the way Apps did could easily take offence and be angered by comments that meant little to the people making them.

"They can take offence from people who are just joking," he said.

"They are always suspicious ... and are more likely to get more angry inappropriately. Even neutral remarks can be taken quite personally."

Dr Delaforce said such personality orders could ease in intensity as their sufferers aged, usually when they got to their 40s.

However, he said that waning of Apps' personality disorder was unlikely to occur before another five to 10 years.

The court will hear more expert psychiatric evidence on Tuesday before taking sentencing submissions from the prosecution and defence.

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