The Australian
‘Cool, calculated’ psychiatrist killer gets life
By Jeremy Roberts
October 29, 2004

Psychiatrist Jean Eric Gassy

Psychiatrist Jean Eric Gassy

A FORMER psychiatrist has been sentenced to at least 34 years behind bars for the execution of mental health boss Margaret Tobin after a judge yesterday ruled he was “profoundly dangerous” and should probably die in prison.

In handing Jean Eric Gassy, 48, the second-longest non-parole period for a single murder in South Australian history, the judge described the murder as a “cool, calculated and clever crime”.

Gassy, 48, shot Tobin four times in the back as she stepped from an elevator at her office in an Adelaide government building in October 2002.

Judge Ann Vanstone rejected the prosecution’s portrayal of Gassy as delusional and psychotic, claiming he was “extremely intelligent” and shot Tobin “calmly and efficiently” believing she had played a role in having him deregistered.

The trial heard how the former Sydney psychiatrist kept a list of “persons of interest” with details and addresses of Tobin and other doctors he believed were responsible for his professional demise.

Before a packed courtroom, Justice Vanstone said she believed Gassy had added more names to his list since his arrest.
“As long as you live you will be profoundly dangerous,” the judge said.

In personal observations of Gassy, she recalled the day of the trial when he “brandished” post- mortem photographs of Tobin at an expert witness in apparent triumph, and she noted his “barely suppressed anger” at others on the list who testified in the trial.

“The killing was cool, calculated and clever. You went to great lengths to cover your tracks and assume a new identity,” Justice Vanstone said.

Gassy today repeated his denials of a mental illness and accused doctors who testified during his trial of bias.

Outside court, Tobin’s widower, Don Scott, said the sentence was a “really, really great” end to the trial and said he was not surprised that Gassy had not shown any remorse.

“He’s been in denial all the way along,” Mr Scott said. “I’m not sure that he know’s what he’s done — it doesn’t seem to have affected him.”

During the month-long trial, Gassy represented himself confidently but yesterday appeared rattled in the dock as he asked Justice Vanstone for a lenient sentence, in part because he said Tobin had “suffered little” and the crime had no sadistic or financial element.

Gassy repeated claims he had AIDS, despite a number of medical authorities dismissing the self-diagnosis. “The AIDS, for which I have been untreated, is likely to lead to death in custody in the next year or two,” Gassy said. “Deprivation (of treatment) is no less than an attempted execution.”

He also denied he suffered from a “delusional disorder”.

His jail sentence is second only to that imposed on Bevan Spencer von Einem, serving a life sentence with a 36-year non-parole period for murdering teenager Richard Kelvin in 1983.


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Jean Eric Gassy