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The Globe and Mail

Killed son, man found not criminally responsible

A Toronto father who admitted to drugging and suffocating his epileptic 11-year-old son has been found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder.

David Carmichael killed his son, Ian, at a hotel in this southwestern Ontario city last summer after a night of video games and television.

"We will probably never fully understand the desperation that led David Carmichael to take (the life of) his little boy," Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Rady said.

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"He was clearly a devoted and caring parent who looked for opportunities for his son to excel."

Judge Rady was to make a decision later Friday on what should now happen to Mr. Carmichael, with both Crown and defence arguing that he should be sent to a mental-health facility immediately.

Forensic psychiatrists testified during the emotional three-day trial that the 47-year-old man was suffering from a severe bout of depression and psychosis when he killed the boy.

They said Mr. Carmichael was convinced that by killing the boy, who he believed was partially brain dead, he would spare him a life of intolerable suffering and save his family from a child he saw seething with aggression to the point where he might have killed his older sister.

After his arrest, Mr. Carmichael told police his son, whose body was found at a Holiday Inn on July 31, 2004, felt everyone was laughing at him and was in a "living hell."

"There can be no question that Mr. Carmichael's beliefs were illogical, indefensible, and contrary to reality," Judge Rady told a packed courtroom.

Dr. John Bradford, who examined Mr. Carmichael a month after the slaying, said the father is now conscious that his actions were wrong, and he has begun grieving the loss of his son.

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Over the course of the judge-only trial, Judge Rady heard heart-wrenching testimony from a former colleague and Mr. Carmichael's twin brother, Jeff, both of whom described in vivid detail the transformation of "a loving father" into a depressed, suicidal stranger.

Jeff Carmichael testified that their family has a history of depression and suicide.

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