Drugs may have affected accused murderer — (The Age)

SSRI Ed note: Man who has been taking Zoloft for 8 days drinks, accuses wife and stabs her to death. "Experts" testify that the med could not have caused the tragedy.

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The Age

May 3, 2007 – 5:19PM

A man accused of murdering his wife could have been experiencing side effects from a commonly-used anti-depressant in the lead up to her death, a Brisbane court has heard.

The Supreme Court on Thursday heard Hasan Abusoud, 38, had used Zoloft in the days before he allegedly attacked his wife Hoda with two large knives and slit her throat because she had started seeing another man.

Abusoud, of Slacks Creek, south of Brisbane, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 33-year-old wife on November 16, 2005.

Defence lawyer Rob East said Abusoud was prescribed the medication eight days before Mrs Abusoud’s death.

Mr East said his client had complained about “trembling” at work the day after he was given the tablets, and had taken two or three of them with alcohol by the end of the week.

Pharmacologist Professor Lindsay Brown told the court Zoloft had a “high index of safety”, resulting in it being “a drug of first choice” with “rare and infrequent” side effects.

Prof Brown said while it was most likely users would not experience any adverse effects in the first seven days of use, “the possibility is always there”.

He said while the chance Abusoud had experienced trembling was very low, it was possible.

When asked under cross-examination about the combined effect of alcohol and Zoloft, Prof Brown replied: “There’s never going to be a black and white answer.”

However, he said the minimal amount of tablets taken by Abusoud meant there was “most likely no increase” in the brain’s response to the drug nor the alcohol.

Yet Prof Brown said Zoloft’s manufacturers warned of a “wide range” of side effects including nausea, trembling, dizziness, insomnia, increased sleep, decreased libido and nervousness.

The court has heard between 6.30am (AEST) and 7am on the day of her death, Mrs Abusoud had not long returned home from an overnight shift working as a taxi driver when a jealous Abusoud allegedly grabbed the knives from the kitchen and set upon her in the bedroom.

Prosecutor Vicki Loury said two of their three children, boys aged 12 and 13, stood outside the bedroom door and listened to their mother’s screams as she was allegedly being butchered.

A post-mortem examination revealed she had been stabbed in the head, neck and back and that her throat was slashed.

The case continues.

© 2007 AAP