A high-flying realtor told a woman ‘you have to die’ before attacking her with a samurai sword, but his lawyer claims he was unable to form an intent to kill because he was so drugged, a court heard.
Karl Howard, 46, is on trial in NSW District Court over a bloody and horrific incident at his home in Annandale in February 2021 in which he attacked two women.
Former Ray White Balmain manager has pleaded guilty to some counts but is fighting more serious charges as he says he did not ‘intend’ to kill or harm the woman he he struck with the sword.
The facts of the case were not contested, with the trial turning on whether Howard had the “intent” required to satisfy the most serious charges.
His legal team argued he was in the throes of drug psychosis, with a disturbing vision of his arrest, during which he growled like an animal, previously played in court.
The court also heard he was in the midst of a cocaine abuse and told a psychiatrist he had not slept for seven days before the attack.
“By the end of the seventh day, I was like a different person…right before the incident, I was struggling a lot,” Howard reportedly said in a report by Dr. Olav Nielssen given to the court.
Crown prosecutor Kenneth Magnus said during closing arguments on Monday that while Howard was “very disturbed”, “drunk” and psychotic at the time, he was still capable of forming an intent to kill the woman.
He told the court that while he was in the apartment and before hitting the woman, he said to her, “I have to kill you, you have to die.”
Mr Magnus also pointed to CCTV which captured Howard running down a nearby alley and jumping into the back of a ute and covering himself in shade cloth as police patrolled the streets looking for him.
“The defendant’s cognition at this point, shortly after the incident, was not impaired by alcohol and drugs,” Mr Magnus said.
Mr Magnus said at one point Howard reached out from the set to reattach the net and maintained his actions displayed a “consciousness of guilt”.
However, Howard’s attorney, Matthew Johnston SC, said Howard was so drunk he could not have formed any intent.
In police body camera footage of his arrest, Howard can be seen writhing on the ground and growling like an animal.
An officer calls an ambulance, saying Howard is “suffering from a psychotic episode.”
“When he was arrested… he was making nonsensical sounds and talking gibberish,” Mr Johnston said.
“He was clearly in a fluid and fluctuating mental state at the time.”
The court heard that two women were at his house drinking when he started acting erratically early in the morning.
He said he both took valium and Viagra and was seen using large amounts of cocaine, according to the crown case statement.
According to the prosecution, he began to hop around the room laughing and saying “one of you has to die” and “I have to kill her”.
When the first woman tried to leave by ordering an Uber, Howard grabbed her by the throat and tried to kiss her, according to the prosecution.
He knocked one of the women to the ground and elbowed the other in the head before drawing a 1.5m samurai sword, the court heard.
He struck the first woman three times with the samurai sword as she tried to protect herself, according to the prosecution.
He pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing actual bodily harm to a woman and to one count of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to the other.
But he also pleaded not guilty to the more serious charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder and one count of intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Both of these charges relate to the woman who was struck by the samurai sword.
A toxicology report, delivered to the court, found traces of alcohol, cocaine, valium and eight other drugs in Howard’s system.
Judge Antony Townsend will deliver his judgment on the matter next Friday.