Psychiatric interview with Batstone ‘raised red flags,’ court hears

Doctor testifies that mother knew actions the day her daughter died were legally wrong

Accused South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone tried to give the impression she was psychotically ill at the time of her eight-year-old daughter’s death, BC Supreme Court officials heard Wednesday.

Forensic psychiatrist Jeanette Smith – called by defence counsel to testify in Batstone’s second-degree murder trial – spent four hours Wednesday painting a picture of Batstone’s mental state before and after the incident.

The court heard that in the hours following the Dec. 10, 2014 discovery of Teagan’s body, Batstone provided graphic details about killing her daughter to police, hospital staff and Peace Arch Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Douglas Maskall. However, Smith said when she interviewed Batstone in February and May in 2015, the mother changed her tone.

“She maintained she had no recollection of smothering her daughter – no, or little, memory of the actual offence,” Smith told the court.

That and other contradictory information, Smith said, “raised red flags” for her around the reliability of Batstone’s statements during their interview.

Batstone was arrested after Teagan’s body was found in the trunk of a car in a cul-de-sac just south of Crescent Road. She entered a not-guilty plea on Oct. 1, 2018, and the trial got underway in mid-November.

Wednesday, Smith was asked to discuss the level of impairment of Batstone’s “executive function” – ability to problem-solve, generate options and weigh consequences. Smith said Batstone’s executive function was likely compromised partly due to “clinically significant” levels of depression and anxiety.

Smith testified that Batstone was likely “unable to know that her actions (on the day Teagan died) were morally wrong,” but it was apparent that she knew they were legally wrong.

“I have concerns that she was able to see the consequences,” Smith said.

Cited red flags included that Batstone had not told police and officials who first interacted with her following Teagan’s death – but had told Smith in her later interviews – about a repeated voice she had heard: “you have to save her, you have to protect her.”

Batstone also provided conflicting reports with respect to her opinion on her ex-husband Gabe Batstone, Smith said. In the hours following her arrest, Batstone told police and hospital staff that Gabe was “evil” and “psychotic.” However, the court heard, Batstone told Smith she holds no anger towards Gabe.

In cross-examination, Crown counsel Christopher McPherson read from one of Smith’s reports outlining her opinion that Batstone’s “hallucination… was perhaps directed at giving the impression to the assessing forensic psychiatrist (Smith) that she had been psychotically ill at the time of the offence, and therefore eligible for a finding of NCRMD (not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder),” McPherson said.

Smith acknowledged she had previously formed the opinion that Batstone was not criminally responsible for the murder, but “now, I cannot concretely say that she is not criminally responsible,” even though executive function was compromised.

Smith was to return to the stand Thursday, after Peace Arch News press time.

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