A high-flying real estate agent has been found not guilty of serious charges after he attacked a woman with a Samurai sword during a drug and binge.
Karl Howard, 46, last month stood trial in the District Court over an incident at his Annandale home in February 2021 during which he attacked two women.
He pleaded guilty to some charges relating to the attack but fought the more serious of the charges, as his lawyers successfully argued he could not have formed an ‘intent’ to kill or injure the woman who he struck with the sword.
Karl Howard, 46, last month stood trial in the NSW District Court over an incident at his Annandale home in February 2021
During his trial, the court heard Howard was in the middle of a cocaine bender and told a psychiatrist that he had not slept for seven days at the time of the incident.
He pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm relating to one woman and one count of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to the second woman.
He entered not guilty pleas to the more serious charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder and one count of intending to cause grievous bodily harm, with his barrister arguing he was in the midst of a drug psychosis.
After a judge-alone trial, Judge Antony Townsend on Friday found him not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder and intending to cause grievous bodily harm.
Howard is pictured out Sydney’s Downing Centre on Friday morning
The facts of the case were largely not in contest during the trial.
The court heard two women were at his home drinking when he began acting erratically in the early morning, including grabbing a pair of scissors and making violent gestures, according to the crown prosecution.
He told both of the women that he had taken valium and Viagra and was seen consuming large amounts of cocaine.
Karl Howard during a bedside interview with police after the attack
A toxicology report tendered to the court found traces of alcohol, cocaine, valium and eight other drugs in his system.
In a report tendered during the trial, he reported to a forensic psychiatrist that he had gone on a 15-day drug binge in the lead-up during which he consumed 80 grams of cocaine.
After the attack inside his Ferris Street home, CCTV captured Howard running into a nearby laneway and jumping into the back of a ute where he covered himself with a shade cloth as police drove past.
He covered himself in the tarp before staggering out of the tray and running before he was arrested minutes later.
Graphic images of Karl Howard when he was arrested by police during a dramatic early morning incident
Karl Howard hiding in a ute as he attempted to evade police
In police bodycam footage also played to the court, Howard could be seen writing on the ground and growling like an animal at officers as he was arrested.
An officer could be heard telling colleagues that Howard was ‘suffering a psychotic episode’ and asked for an ambulance to be called.
Howard´s barrister Matt Johnston relied on a report by prominent forensic psychiatrist Dr Olav Nielssen.
‘I believe Mr Howard was in a state of confusion at the time of the offences, during which his perception of events and his ability to think in a calm and logical manner was significantly impaired,’ Dr Nielssen said in his report.
Dr Nielsen added: ‘At the times of the offences, Mr Howard´s capacity to form the intention to injure (the women) was affected by the impairment in his perception of events and his capacity to control his actions …
Mr Howard could have been said to have been psychotic.’
Howard will be sentenced at a later date.