A young Sydney man obsessed with video games has been jailed for at least three years for stabbing his father to death after being told to get off the computer and come to dinner.
Stephen Chapman had turned off the modem and tried to remove the cables when his then 20-year-old son picked up a knife from his desk and stabbed him once in the right shoulder causing a deep wound.
Daniel Chapman, 22, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act of his 56-year-old father on the evening of October 2, 2016, at the family’s home at Moorebank.
In the NSW Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Ian Harrison jailed him for six years with a non-parole period of three, noting his autism spectrum disorder and his “momentary lapse” in being unable to control himself.
“The evidence established that Mr Chapman has for most of his life survived as an emotionally and socially vulnerable young person in a family in which the relationship with his father was difficult as the result of their likely shared autistic spectrum disorders,” the judge said.
Outside court, his mother, Elaine Bell, said she would always “be by his side and support him”.
The judge had noted: “The depth and breadth of her support for Mr Chapman are unique in my experience in a case such as this.”
On the night of the stabbing, his mother repeatedly called him to come to the table for dinner.
After his parents started eating he said he would be there in five minutes and was participating in an online game he couldn’t leave.
He said “I’ll come when I’m ready” and that he would eat his dinner cold if necessary.
The judge said the parents became increasingly frustrated, with the father saying “You’ll be looking for somewhere to rent tomorrow”, before the mother asked her husband to disconnect the internet.
But he was stabbed when he started to dismantle the computer.
When police arrived, Chapman immediately confessed to stabbing his father and has been in custody since then.
His mother gave evidence at the sentence hearing Chapman’s father “didn’t seem interested” in his son, describing him as a “difficult father” and “not a good father” to their only child.
Chapman had no criminal record, had never been in a relationship or had any employment.
“His hobbies included playing the piano (self-taught), reading history and science books, computer gaming and collecting historical items, including weapons,” the judge said.
He found Chapman’s moral culpability to be low and was satisfied he would not offend again.