Exclusive: Murder-suicide killer ‘not sick enough’ for public hospital bed

A man who committed a horror murder-suicide was “not sick enough” for the public hospital system and couldn’t afford a private hospital bed. Read at Perth Now

Charles Bisucci killed his partner and then himself in an episode of narcissistic rage, a psychiatrist specialising in family violence told a court. Credit: Supplied

A murder-suicide killer saw a psychiatrist two weeks before his horror act but he wasn’t given a public hospital bed, an inquest has heard.

A Coroners Court of Victoria inquest is investigating the death of Marilyn Burdon, who was murdered by her partner Charles Bisucci on August 21, 2017, after she told him she didn’t want him.

Bisucci then killed himself in a separate room of the Kew mansion where he had lived with her for several months.

About two weeks before his horror act he saw a psychiatrist because of a “severe relapse of depressive illness”.

The court heard on Monday he ”would have been better off” in hospital.

But Manjula O’Connor, chairwoman of the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Family Violence Network, said there were few options for his treating psychiatrist without private health insurance to cover a hospital stay.

Public hospitals were under pressure to take patients with psychosis for compulsory admission, she said.

This left few beds for people like Bisucci with more “moderate” depressive illnesses, the court heard.

“Taken into account is the availability of the beds … only the most serious patients get admitted,” she said.

“He was not considered ill enough for compulsory admission.”

Private hospitals were more likely to have beds available for patients like him, with depression and a history of expressing suicidal thoughts, she told the court.

But without private health insurance he couldn’t afford it.

“He could not be admitted to a public system — he’s not sick enough — and he has no private health insurance,” she said.

“People like him do fall through the cracks.

“He would definitely have been better off in an inpatient setting, there is no doubt about that.

“But there were too many barriers here.”

She said in the private system he likely would have been treated for as long as was necessary until his psychiatrist felt he was ready.

Bisucci’s girlfriend of more than a decade previously told the court he saw Ms Burdon as his “financial future”, after he sold his house to pay off debts.

Part of the scope of the coronial inquest is how he got his hands on a gun despite being permanently banned from holding a gun license because of his history of family violence.

During a marriage breakdown in 2004 he broke into his ex-wife’s home in the middle of the night and “frightened her”, the court heard.

It previously heard that Bisucci physically and emotionally abused his girlfriend, Ms Cattapan, including giving her a black eye by pegging an orange at her and cutting her arm while she was driving.

Dr O’Connor said psychiatrists should be on the lookout for patients who were perpetrators of domestic violence, as well as for victims.

“Family violence needs to be front of mind – recognising that one-third of our patients are going to be victims, and more on top of that will be perpetrators,” she said.

Dr O’Connor said the murder-suicide was an episode of “narcissistic rage”.

“He, essentially, also, had the patriarchal view of the world in which men should dominate,” she said.

“In his mind he thought he had been able to fool Marilyn with his charm and manipulated her into considering selling her house … and solving his financial problems.”

When Ms Burdon instead told him to move out of her house he was “embarrassed and humiliated”.

“His patriarchal mindset, low respect for women, need to abuse power and control, and dominate his female intimate partners was evident in all of his intimate relationships,” Dr O’Connor said.

“He lost control over Marilyn, and his last chance at financial security was lost.”

The inquest continues February 10.

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