The victim was beautiful, successful and generous. Her killer was good-looking, aimless and deeply troubled. And they were close friends. Last week in Toronto, an Ontario Supreme Court murder trial ended abruptly on its ninth day when assistant Crown attorney Paul Chumak conceded that 19-year-old Andrew Leyshon-Hughes was legally insane when he stabbed 23-year-old Nancy Eaton to death on Jan. 21, 1985. A jury of seven men and five women took 17 minutes to reach a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Associate Chief Justice Frank Callaghan immediately ordered that Leyshon-Hughes be held in a mental institution until authorities determine that he is no longer dangerous. Declared Callaghan: “The accused at the time of the killing did not appreciate the quality or nature of his act. I’m satisfied he was criminally insane at the time.”
The horrifying murder ended a long platonic relationship between Leyshon-Hughes and Eaton, a real estate agent who was the great-great-granddaughter of department-store founder Timothy Eaton. But defence lawyer Clayton Ruby claimed that the death was at least partly the fault of failings in the Ontario mental health system. Psychiatrists called by Ruby testified that Leyshon-Hughes had a brain dysfunction from birth and had unsuccessfully sought psychiatric treatment only three days before the murder. According to testimony, one of the few people Leyshon-Hughes could depend on was Eaton, who, the night before the murder, let her friend sleep on her sofa. Testimony showed that he awoke at 8 a.m. the next day and stabbed the sleeping woman 21 times with a butcher knife. After dropping two eggs on the floor and placing an uprooted potted palm on the blood-drenched bed, he left the apartment but returned six hours later to rape the dead body. When Ontario Provincial Police officers arrested him in Eaton’s car, which had broken down north of Toronto, he told them that he was on his way to drive off a cliff in Collingwood.
By week’s end Leyshon-Hughes had been moved to a cell in Oak Ridge, a section of the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre for the criminally insane in central Ontario. Declared the judge: “He may never go free.”
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