Benjamin Hoffmann tells the NT Supreme Court why he pleaded guilty to murder, manslaughter

Murderer Benjamin Glenn Hoffmann has today told Supreme Court Justice John Burns that there were two important reasons why he changed his claim from not guilty to guilty in the seventh week of his nine-week trial.

Speaking from the quay, flanked by security guards, Hoffmann stood up and told the judge that negotiations between himself, his defense team and the Crown’s prosecutors led to yesterday’s move.

“The two factors that I considered were that the prosecution would accept that I am sincerely sorry and remorseful for my actions,” Hoffmann told Justice Burns.

At this point in Hoffmann’s speech, Crown Prosecutor Lloyd Babb SC protested.

Justice Burns told Hoffmann that since he was not sworn in or testified, there was “very little weight” he could give the comments.

A still image taken from footage of Benjamin Hoffman being arrested outside a white car by tactical reaction police.
Benjamin Hoffmann was arrested on the night of June 4, 2019 after the shootings.(Delivered)

Hoffmann seemed to recognize Justice Burns, but chose to keep talking.

“This prosecution would accept that I am sincerely sorry and remorseful for my actions,” he reiterated.

“That the courts would consider giving me a non-probationary period, a bottom: these are the two factors I considered when I pleaded guilty.”

Hoffmann yesterday changed his confession to guilty of the murders of Hassan Baydoun, Michael Sisois and Robert Courtney during a shooting on June 4, 2019.

He also pleaded guilty to the low-priority charge of manslaughter in relation to Nigel Helling’s death as well as four minor charges, including ruthless danger to life and threat of killing.

Under Northern Territory law, those convicted of more than two murders face a 25-year non-probationary period.

Justice Burns has not set a date for sentencing Hoffmann, and submissions from both sides are underway.

Psychiatric experts disagree on state of mind

Forensic psychiatrist David Greenberg, who began giving evidence Tuesday afternoon, told the court today that he had the opportunity for Hoffmann to “understand” what he was doing at the time of the shooting.

“Are he delusions? Is he out of touch with reality? In my opinion not,” Professor Greenberg said in court.

Jon Tippett QC walks out of court flanked by a reporter.
Jon Tippett QC has represented Benjamin Hoffmann through his trial.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Forensic psychiatrist consultant Kerri Eagle, however, disagreed with Professor Greenberg’s assessment, saying she thought Hoffmann was psychotic during her shooting.

“I think he had persistent delusions at the time of the violation, yes,” said Dr. Eagle.

Dr. Eagle said examples of Hoffmann’s “fixed and false” delusions included concerns that he had been poisoned and that someone had hurt his lover.

Defense attorney Jon Tippett QC pressured Dr. Eagle on previous testimony, which described Hoffmann as “calm and organized” and able to conduct conversations during the vandalism.

Dr. Eagle said that a delusion could “fluctuate in intensity” and some people could “function relatively well” despite experiencing persistent delusions.

“I think everyone except me has failed to support a mental weakening defense,” said Dr. Eagle.

A white man with thick black facial hair leaves the court surrounded by TV reporters
Crown prosecutor Lloyd Babb SC accepted Hoffmann’s guilty plea.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Hoffmann’s ice cream discussed

The court heard earlier blood tests from Hoffmann showed that he had ingested a “significant amount” of methylamphetamine prior to his arrest.

Dr. Eagle said Hoffmann’s drug use “would have increased the intensity of any delusion”.

Dr. Eagle told the court that the “primary motivator” for Hoffmann’s behavior on the night of the shooting was his persistent delusions, but said Hoffmann also knew his crimes were “legally wrong.”

Professor Greenberg disagreed on the primary driving force behind Hoffmann’s behavior during the vandalism.

“During the violation, he acts, in my opinion, primarily with retaliation, with revenge, with anger, with rage,” Professor Greenberg said in court.

“It’s not primarily driven by a paranoid delusion in which he is psychotic of the drugs.”

Professor Greenberg said that when Hoffmann acquired a handgun and ingested several drugs in the hours leading up to the vandalism, “it empowered him.”

“He feels like Superman,” he said.

“It encourages him by having the intravenous amphetamines; makes him feel alert, alert and probably more powerful.”

Dr. Eagle said it was “likely” that Hoffmann had a paranoid personality disorder.

But Professor Greenberg disagreed with Dr. Eagles diagnosis.

“I do not accept that he had a specific personality disorder such as paranoid personality disorder or antisocial personality or narcissistic personality disorder,” Professor Greenberg said.

“I found out that he probably had a personality disorder with antisocial, paranoid and probably also narcissistic traits; that he had a substance abuse disorder; and that, at the time, [of the offending] he was drunk on amphetamines. “

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