A delusional man who shot dead his parliamentarian father on Norfolk Island 15 years ago has admitted to brutally bashing a hospital patient with a chair in Sydney.
Leith Maclean Buffett was 25 when he killed his father Ivens ‘Toon’ Buffett, who he believed was ‘The Evil Prophet’ as the 60-year-old sat in his government chair.
Mr Buffett was Norfolk Island’s Minister for Land and the Environment and his son was the first person to be charged with murder in the external Australian territory in 150 years.
Leith Buffett, who shot his father in the head with a Lee-Enfield .303 rifle, was deemed unfit to stand trial due to serious mental illness.
Now 40, he has admitted to a vicious unprovoked attack on a patient he bashed in the mental health care unit of a Sydney hospital because voices told him to.
A man who shot dead his parliamentarian father on Norfolk Island 15 years ago has admitted to severely bashing a hospital patient in Sydney. Leith Maclean Buffett (above) was 25 when he killed his father Ivens ‘Toon’ Buffett as the 60-year-old sat in his government office
Leith Buffett killed his father in an office next to the island’s parliament. Pictured are the government buildings which survive from the penal colony era in Norfolk’s capital Kingston
Norfolk Island is about 1,400km east of the Australian mainland and relies heavily on tourism
Buffett appeared in custody at Waverley Local Court on Thursday when he pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
His matter was delayed when the prosecution learnt he had a criminal record on Norfolk Island and further inquiries had to be made.
Buffet’s lawyer Cassandra Giudice said her client had no community ties in Australia and she was ‘trying to deal with the complexities of that matter.’
Norfolk Island, which had a population of about 1,750 at the 2016 Census, covers just 35 square kilometres and sits 1,412km east of Evans Head on the New South Wales northern rivers.
About 20 per cent of the territory’s residents are descended from Pitcairn Islanders who resettled the abandoned penal colony in 1856.
The Pitcairners were descended from British sailors who mutinied on the Bounty in 1789 and their Tahitian wives, as well as later arrivals including John Buffett.
Norfolk was a penal colony from 1788 to 1814 and was later reoccupied as a place of secondary punishment to send ‘the worst description of convicts.’
The second white settlement (1825-1855) was an island prison with a disciplinary regime considered the worst in the British Empire.
The killing of ‘Toon’ Buffett in 2004 shocked Norfolk, coming just two years after the then unsolved murder of 29-year-old Sydney woman Janelle Patton.
New Zealand chef Glenn McNeill, 28, was charged with Ms Patton’s murder in 2006 and jailed for 24 years in 2007.
Leith Buffett, pictured leaving Waverley Local Court on Thursday, had until recently being living a peaceful life on Norfolk Island where he was born into a prominent family
Onlookers try to catch a glimpse of Glenn McNeill as he appears at the Kingston courthouse on Norfolk Island in February 2006 after being charged with the 2002 murder of Janelle Patton
Leith Buffett had confronted his parents in their bedroom on the morning of July 19 with one of his father’s firearms.
He was then seen walking through the main gates of the island’s Legislative Assembly carrying a .303 rifle shortly before midday.
‘Toon’ Buffett had missed a Monday morning meeting of the island’s nine MPs in the parliament’s main building where they had been discussing the island’s firearm laws.
He was instead at his desk in a cottage next to that building, where he raised his hands in self defense just before his son shot him in the head.
A heavy squall had been lashing the island and no one in the main building heard the shot through its thick stone walls.
Leith was was first held in Norfolk’s two-cell police station before an amendment to NSW legislation allowed his transfer to Sydney’s Long Bay jail.
He underwent psychiatric assessment which revealed he believed his well-respected father was ‘The Evil Prophet’.
Leith Buffett (above) pleaded guilty to bashing another patient in the Kiloh Centre at Randwick’s Prince of Wales Hospital. The 40-year-old was convicted of assaulting occasioning actual bodily harm and put on a two-year community corrections order
One of the two modern cells in Norfolk Island’s police station where Leith Buffett was first held after being arrested for his father’s murder in 2004
Buffett did not stand trial and the criminal charge against him was dismissed.
Ms Giudice told the court her client had until recently been living on Norfolk Island in ‘relative peace’ until he stopped taking his medicine.
When his mental health deteriorated to a point he could not be treated there he was medically evacuated to Sydney.
Buffett was held in a secure ward at the Kiloh Centre in Randwick’s Prince of Wales Hospital, where he assaulted a long-term male patient.
The patient was leaving his room to go to the toilet about 2.15am on December 22 when he noticed Buffett running towards him with a chair in his hands.
‘Before the victim could even react the accused struck him across the face with the chair,’ a police statement of facts said.
‘The initial impact caused the victim to not only feel immense pain, it caused him to sustain deep cuts and lacerations to his face causing his wounds to bleed out profusely.’
The remains of the gaol on Norfolk Island which was once considered the worst penal institution in the British Empire. Some prisoners preferred death over its cruel daily regime
Hospital staff initially assumed the man had simply fallen over until he told them he had been assaulted by a ‘big patient who was wearing a flannelette shirt.’
When police arrived a doctor told them Buffett had multiple mental health issues including suffering from ‘command hallucinations’ whereby voices in his head told him to hurt people.
‘The accused told [the doctor] that prior to the assault he was in his room hearing voices telling him to pick up a chair and kill someone with it,’ the statement of facts said. ‘The first person he saw was the victim.’
Buffett did not know his victim’s name or have any issues with him – ‘he just happened to be the only person in the corridor at the time he was still hearing the voices.’
Magistrate Allison Hawkins said Buffett had clearly been mentally unwell at the time of what was an unprovoked attack on a vulnerable person.
‘Obviously this is a difficult matter for the court,’ Ms Hawkins said.
An aerial view of Norfolk Island showing Kingston and the lush surrounding farming land
‘He was not a man who at that stage was in his right mind. [However] he is no longer posing the danger he did.’
Ms Hawkins said if the assault had occurred on the street and Buffett had no mental illness he would likely be going to prison.
He did need to be punished but ‘he is not a person who is a good vehicle for general deference’.
Ms Hawkins recorded a conviction and released Buffet on a community corrections order for two years.
‘I hope you live a peaceful life not being a problem to anybody,’ she said.
Buffett, who intends to return as soon as possible to Norfolk Island and the care of his brother, thanked the magistrate.
‘I hope I don’t see you back here,’ Ms Hawkins told him.
‘No, I don’t think you will after that,’ Buffett said.
In 2015 the Australian Government assumed responsibility for delivering national and state-level services to Norfolk Island and for the establishment of an elected Norfolk Island Regional Council.