A MOLONG man charged with shooting dead a security guard at a Melbourne abortion clinic has been found guilty of murder.
After four hours of deliberation, a Victorian Supreme Court jury yesterday delivered the verdict against 48-year-old Peter James Knight, formerly of Molong, NSW, who had pleaded not guilty to the murder of father-of-seven Steven Rogers, 44, on July 16 last year.
Mr Rogers died from a rifle shot to his chest at the clinic in Wellington Parade, East Melbourne.
The jury retired to begin deliberations yesterday after Supreme Court judge Justice Bernard Teague had completed his summing up of the case.
Justice Teague said that Knight, who represented himself and on Monday made a statement from the dock, had asked the jury to conclude that the bullet that hit the security guard was fired accidentally.
Today's verdict was greeted by cheers from the court gallery.
Knight will be sentenced at a later date.
As today's verdict was handed down, Knight, showed no emotion, remaining seated in the dock flanked by two prison officers.
He refused to answer when asked to reply to formal questions put by the judge's associate on his name, date of birth and last place of residence. When asked by the associate if he had anything to say, Knight stood, and in a loud voice said: "You will be made to pay the penalty."
The Crown had described Knight as an obsessed anti-abortionist.
On Monday gaunt and shabbily-dressed, Knight stood in the dock, turned to the jury and in a voice that rose almost to a scream as he spoke, told them that at "long, long last" they would hear the "good news".
With that, he embarked on a raucous, rambling diatribe against the prosecution in which he called Crown prosecutor Bill Morgan-Payler brainless and declared the Crown case "totally and absolutely bloody useless".
"For the past four days, I have been dragged to this courtroom and been forced to listen to and endure some of the most useless, some of the most irrelevant and some of the most stupid evidence and testimony any prosecution barrister must ever have had the effrontery to present."
As Knight ranted, his voice cracking and eyes blazing, a sobbing Mrs Rogers hurried from the court.
Her departure though, seemed to go unnoticed by her husband's killer, a man who had gone to the clinic armed with a rifle, kerosene, gags and various devices police believe were designed to prevent anyone escaping.
Confronted with the evidence, and giving his own for the first time during the week-long trial, he told the jury it had all been an accident.
The 48-year-old had been living rough in a bush camp near Molong before turning up in Melbourne to act on his deep and obsessive hatred of abortionists and their patients.
After his arrest, he refused to give his name and police spent weeks establishing his identity.
When his case finally came to court, he declined legal representation, and also to cross-examine any prosecution witnesses or to produce any witnesses of his own.
Instead, Knight chose to attempt to shoot down the case against him with a summing-up delivered from the dock.