Rhys Michael Smith held five people captive at knifepoint after a drunken drug-fuelled night on the town.
Rhys Michael Smith held five people captive at knifepoint after a drunken drug-fuelled night on the town.

Soldier held five captive in ‘terrifying’ home invasion

A DARWIN soldier who broke into a city apartment and held five people captive at knifepoint after a drunken, drug-fuelled night on the town has been ruled not guilty due to mental impairment.

Rhys Michael Smith, 28, pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court to five counts of detaining his victims against their will following the "terrifying" home invasion in December 2017.

The court heard Smith had been drinking and taking cocaine and other drugs before he forced his way into the Mitchell St unit complex while the occupants were asleep in the early hours of December 10.

One man woke up and saw Smith who told him to go back to his room before walking into the lounge where two other people were sleeping and telling them to be quiet or he would shoot them.

Two other people came out of their rooms and Smith made them sit on the floor with the others with their hands above their heads, again threatening to shoot them if they didn't comply.

At one point, Smith "became agitated" and armed himself with a 20cm kitchen knife which he used to threaten a man who asked to go to the toilet, telling him to go in a pot from the kitchen.

Throughout the ordeal, Smith accused his victims of "being affiliated with a terrorist organisation" and was finally brought down after police arrived and tasered him as he stepped towards them with the knife.

A psychiatrist would later conclude Smith suffered from "de-realisation, hypervigilance, irrational thoughts and a sense of persecution" as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder and was unable to control his actions on the night.

In releasing Smith unconditionally late last year, Chief Justice Michael Grant cited evidence that by November 2018 he had not abused alcohol since the incident, had no persisting mental health issues and no longer presented a risk.

Chief Justice Grant said Smith had been dismissed from the defence force as a result of the charges and was now working as a senior staffer at Sportsbet and planned to travel to Malta to train and coach employees there.

"What you did on that night was, as I said at the outset, disturbing and no doubt terrifying for the victims," he said.

"I trust that you now have the insight to see the factors which predispose you to act as you did on that night and the wisdom to avoid putting yourself in that position again."

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