Family of man who killed his twin brother share their ‘indescribable grief’


By Meagan Dillon


December 06, 2018 14:49:49

The devastated family of Lucas Cawte — who killed his twin brother while suffering an undiagnosed mental health condition — have called out the South Australian mental health system for ignoring his repeated requests for help.

Key points:

  • The family of Lucas Cawte says his brother Jake’s death was preventable
  • He was suffering from undiagnosed schizophrenia
  • Supreme Court Justice Kevin Nicholson found him not guilty of murder

Today Supreme Court Justice Kevin Nicholson allowed the 25-year-old’s release from secure mental health facility James Nash House for five hours once a week, under supervision.

In August this year he was found not guilty of murdering his twin brother Jake Cawte by reason of mental incompetence.

In her victim impact statement his mother Deborah Watson told Justice Nicholson of the “indescribable grief” she had suffered and how her family had fallen apart since the March 2017 tragedy.

“Lucas was admitted to [mental health service] Margaret Tobin in late 2016 as a voluntary admission from Noarlunga Hospital,” she told the court.

She said staff were given a mental health assessment by a Noarlunga Hospital mental health nurse, which stated her son was on the brink of a psychotic attack and was suicidal at the time.

“Margaret Tobin staff treated him kindly, gave him meds, told me what a lovely son I had and sent him home five days later with limited follow up,” she said.

“Five months later, he was back in Margaret Tobin charged with murdering his twin brother after a psychotic attack.

“My precious son gone and his brother now living in hell without his twin. Our family will never be the same.”

She said her son Luke was now being treated at James Nash House — a facility in Adelaide’s north-east — where he was getting the medical help “he should have received in late 2016”.

She said the Margaret Tobin centre told her it had done everything it could to help her son.

“I believe if Lucas had been diagnosed correctly when he was first admitted to hospital at Margaret Tobin, my son Jake would still be alive and Lucas would have got the help he needed,” she said.

“But that’s all too late for Jake and our family.”

In a psychiatric report, Cawte was found to be suffering from undiagnosed schizophrenia at the time of his brother’s death.

Ms Watson said her life was now in two parts — before and after the tragedy.

“As a mother I gave birth to four children and now I only have three,” she said.

“Yet there are still days when I think my twins will come through the door and give me a hug like they used to.

“My grief is indescribable.”

Cawte family lost both twins in one day

Their father Tim Cawte, whose victim impact statement was read by a prosecutor, described how he lost both of his sons in one day.

“This preventable tragedy was clearly not Luke’s fault,” he wrote in his statement.

“I have never, ever, at any stage, felt anger towards Luke but love, compassion, understanding and deep sadness for what this has done to him and us.

“Luke recognised that he was unwell and needed help. He asked for help, twice, and presented himself to Margaret Tobin and was rightly diagnosed with a condition which was changed. Then he was discharged without monitoring or evaluation.

“Luke is as much a victim as Jake.”

He said he had visited his son more than 300 times at James Nash House since the shooting and the family support would not stop once he was released.

“They were inseparable best friends with the same DNA,” he said.

“We all wish we had a friend that close.”







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