For an experienced lawyer like Richard Lawson, cases involving mental duress as the cause of illegal behaviour are not new or unusual. Over his years in practice, Lawson has defended numerous cases involving the mental stability of the defendant.
However, in the age of Coronavirus, unique stresses are pushing individuals past their average endurance and into a variety of criminal activities. Although the state and national data are still in the collection phase, Richard Lawson is encountering some high-profile cases of crimes related to mental illness brought on or exacerbated by Covid-19’s sweeping impacts.
What Are Some Mental-health Related Effects of the Coronavirus?
While medical experts are beginning to learn more regarding the long and short-term physical ramifications of COVID-19, Australian mental health officials are continuing to brace for potentially prolonged struggles with Coronavirus induced psychological issues.
Several psychological and emotional problems go hand in hand with Covid-19 and all of the national and world-wide changes experienced everywhere. These challenges include:
- Instances of New or Worsening Anxiety – In the face of an unseen and mostly unknown deadly antagonist, accelerated anxiety is not unusual. Most mental health professionals agree that a marked lack of concern could point to problems. Managing anxiety is a critical step on the road to feeling better.
- A Feeling of Being Overwhelmed – Just as with anxiety, the sense of feeling swept away by the emotional and physical waves of Coronavirus in our nation is typical
- New or Increasing Depression – Fears for the future and a largely unknown road ahead are sparking depression cases across the country. While this fact is not surprising, adding Coronavirus-induced depression on to the shoulders of someone who is already struggling to get out of bed and get dressed can push this person to the limits of their emotional strength.
- An Increase in Substance Use and Abuse – For many Australians, a couple of drinks to take the edge off of the daily Coronavirus fears is a safe way to unwind. For those people already struggling with drugs or alcohol dependency, a downward spiral is easy to imagine.
How Did These COVID-19 Related Psychological Issues Impact the Arsonist From Bruce Rock?
In the case of supermarket owner, Edward Guy Mason, most of the psychological/emotional problems attributed to Coronavirus stresses appeared to manifest in him.
Mason’s defence attorney, Richard Lawson, brought the following crucial points forward in court.
- Mason experienced mental health problems and noticeably grew worse during the COVID crisis
- Mason felt increasingly anxious and overwhelmed by the customers rushing into his supermarket and purchasing hard to locate products while in a panicked state
- Mason continually experienced the anger of his customers who were not able to buy the products they wanted. The customers’ ire increased Mason’s anxiety
- After learning more about the deadly virus, Mason believed that he had contracted Coronavirus
- Mason genuinely believed that the only way to protect his customers was to burn down his supermarket
- Mason planned to take his life the night of the fire
- Mason smoked eight cannabis bongs before setting the blaze
Shortly after the supermarket fire, Mason pled guilty to setting the blaze. Richard Lawson knew the condition of his client when he entered the guilty plea.
Lawson gave a thorough explanation of his client’s mental state. As a result, the judge imposed and suspended a 16-month jail sentence for Mason.
The court noted that Mason served four months in custody, had a clean criminal record and that further time in jail created a high risk of negating Mason’s efforts of psychological rehabilitation. Mason will need to pay a sum of $479,000 to the owner of a hardware store damaged in the fire.
Because of Richard Lawson’s keen understanding of the emotional and psychological factors in play, Edward Guy Mason will receive the help he needs to move forward from this dark point in his life.