It's hard to know who is more out of their mind in this scenario, the Elder or the perpetrator.
Alleged Jehovah’s Witness poisoner Brett Darren Mardon: I drank weed killer first to ensure it wouldn’t be fatal
Source: News Corp Australia
A JEHOVAH’S Witness says he tested the effects of weed killer by drinking it himself before embarking on a plan to “emotionally disturb” a church elder and reverse his excommunication.
Brett Darren Mardon has told the District Court he never intended to harm Ben Anthanysz, his wife or child by injecting their milk and apple juice with the weed killer glysophate.
Giving evidence, Mardon said he wanted to “play with their minds” so Mr Anthanysz would step down from the church conduct committee that “disfellowed” him a year earlier.
He said he believed Mr Anthanysz was blocking his return to the Jehovah’s Witness community which was, as demanded by its faith, acting as if he were “invisible”.
“I was getting desperate, I had no one to talk to, Jehovah’s Witness was my life ... I was just looking for something, anything, that would take Ben away from the committee,” he said.
“I wasn’t there to hurt Ben or his family, it was just purely wanting to be back within the congregation ... I wanted to emotionally disturb them, cause a little bit of uneasiness.
“Ben believes he’s doing the right thing (excommunicating me) but he’s not doing the right thing by me, that’s the drama.
“We don’t always do things that are right even though we believe that we are, and I’m a good example of that.”
Mardon, 47, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempting to create a risk of harm and three counts of serious criminal trespass in a place of residence.
Prosecutors have alleged that, between March and October 2011, he repeatedly injected the weed killer glysophate into milk and juice belonging to Mr Anthanysz.
They have alleged he did so because Mr Anthanysz sat on the three-member committee that, in 2010, excommunicated Mardon from the faith for extramarital sex.
Under the church’s rules of “disfellowship”, members of the congregation could no longer speak to, nor acknowledge, Mardon.
In his evidence, Mardon said he joined the Jehovah’s Witness faith when he was 19 and, by 2010, had no friends outside its ranks.
He said he felt “anguish” over the affair and was prepared to be disciplined for “lingering at the table of Satan”.
However he became distraught when, on three separate occasions, the committee refused to end his period of disfellowship.
“The Bible talks about God being a loving God, but it also speaks about disciplining those He loves ... that process applies to everyone, I was happy to follow it,” he said.
“But to step beyond discipline to the point where it’s emotionally damaging?”
Mardon said he was convinced Mr Anthanysz was “controlling” the committee and blocking his return, and so broke into his house seeking evidence to discredit him.
“He would be disfellowed, to be perfectly frank, and I would have had a fair — rather than biased — hearing,” he said.
When that plan failed he opted to poison their drinks with glysophate, which he chose after calling a poisons information line to ensure his dosages were not lethal.
“I actually made up various batches and drank them ... it was painful to drink, in the taste and the smell ... it was horrible,” he said.
“I believed nobody would ever drink this ... there’s nothing that hides (the smell and taste), nothing that disguises it.
“My purpose was that, perhaps, Ben’s family would put pressure on him not to go out every single night on congregation duties because they’d feel uncomfortable if he wasn’t home.”
In cross-examination, prosecutor Nick Healy disputed that motive.
“You’d lost everything, you lost your friends, you lost your wife and, in your mind, the cause of that was the elders and Mr Anthanysz,” he said.
“So you wanted revenge, didn’t you?”
Mardon insisted that was not the case.
“Ben destroyed my marriage, absolutely, but do I blame him for that? I’m no better than anyone else,” he said.
“I had my part in it, I recognise what I’ve done wrong.”
Mr Healy said Mardon claimed to have no harmful intent, yet had injected the poison “in the exact products” that a family — and a young child — would drink.
“That was an oversight on my part,” Mardon replied.
“I hadn’t thought a great deal about it, to be perfectly honest.”
Judge Rauf Soulio, who has presided over the trial in the absence of a jury, will hear closing submissions in April.