Dongara stabbing trial: experts divided on whether Kim Ashley Prunster was in dissociated state

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Geraldton Courthouse. File image: The Geraldton Guardian
Camera IconGeraldton Courthouse. File image: The Geraldton Guardian Credit: Anita Kirkbright / Geraldton Guardian

Expert witnesses have given contradictory evidence in the trial of a Dongara man accused of trying to murder his partner of 34 years when she decided to leave him for another man.

Defence and prosecution both called forensic psychiatrists today to address the question of whether Kim Ashley Prunster was in a dissociative state when he repeatedly stabbed his partner of 34 years, Amanda Gibbons, in November 2017.

Defence witness, clinical head of the State Forensic Mental Health Service, Dr Gosia Wojnarowska, told a Supreme Court jury in Geraldton it was “highly likely” the 57-year-old was in a dissociated state when he stabbed his 52-year-old partner.

She said the realisation his relationship with Ms Gibbons had ended – coupled with betrayal at the hand of family friend and Ms Gibbons’ lover Glen Marsden – was a very severe and traumatic blow that may have led to the collapse of his psychological defences.

“Betrayal as an event is more frequently linked to dissociation than any other psychological trauma,” she said.

But she acknowledged this was an opinion and she could not scientifically prove or say with 100 per cent certainty that dissociation had happened.

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Prosecution witness, Dr Adam Brett, a forensic psychiatrist with the Mental Health Court in Perth, disputed Dr Wojnarowska’s testimony.

He said Mr Prunster’s act of getting a knife, going to the couple’s bedroom and stabbing his partner was in his view a purposeful act incompatible with a dissociative state.

Dr Brett said while Mr Prunster suffered significant trauma at losing his soulmate to a man he trusted, he would question if it was so severe to classify as a psychological blow to bring on dissociation.

“I think it would be very unlikely (he was in a dissociated state),” he said.

“My understanding of dissociation is that the blow is so devastating … that your will is taken away.”

The trial, before Justice Stephen Hall, continues.

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