Jordan Miller found guilty of murdering girlfriend Emerald Wardle after descending into psychosis


Student, 22, is found guilty of murdering girlfriend, 18, he thought was a demon ‘sucking the life out of him’ – as gasps are heard in the courtroom after jury rejected his two mental illness defences

  • Emerald Wardle was found dead by police in home in Maitland in June, 2020
  • Jordan Miller, 22, was found guilty of murdering Ms Wardle, 18, on Tuesday
  • Court heard he was in a state of psychosis and had thought she was a demon
  • Newcastle jury found his descent into psychosis was due solely to his drug use 

A university student has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend after entering a psychotic state and strangling her believing she was a demon. 

Jordan Brodie Miller, 22, killed his 18-year-old girlfriend Emerald Wardle at his parents’ home in Maitland, north of Sydney, on June 20, 2020. 

Miller’s three-week murder trial heard the student was in a psychotic state when he believed his girlfriend was a demon that was ‘sucking the life out of him’ but the jury agreed with prosecutors that his descent into psychosis was caused solely by his ‘chronic’ cannabis use and the ingestion of half a paper of LSD. 

His lawyer’s had attemtped to argue the student had been suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness like schizophrenia when he strangled his teenage girlfriend. 

He had a defence of mental health impairment available to him but those defences were rejected by the jury.

Jordan Brodie Miller, 22, killed his 18-year-old girlfriend Emerald Wardle (left) at his parents' home in Maitland, north of Sydney, on June 20, 2020

Jordan Brodie Miller, 22, killed his 18-year-old girlfriend Emerald Wardle (left) at his parents’ home in Maitland, north of Sydney, on June 20, 2020

Miller had consumed the LSD or acid on June 9, just 11 days before Ms Wardle was found dead by police who entered the Metford home just after 1:30am. 

There were audible sounds of surprise when the guilty verdict was returned, five days after jurors retired to consider the case, the Daily Telegraph reports. 

The jury rejected finding a ‘special verdict’ where Miller could have been found guilty of the act but not criminally responsible due to a mental health impairment. 

The notion Miller did not intend to kill Ms Wardle, but ‘another being’ that was not human was also rejected by jurors in the Newcastle court room. 

The jury found the student’s descent into psychosis was caused solely by drug use. 

Professor David Greenberg gave evidence in the trial and suggested Miller’s condition had met the criteria of a drug-inducted psychosis, but didn’t meet all the criteria of schizophrenia, a condition his lawyer’s argued he may be suffering. 

However, another psychiatrists Professor Olav Nielssen said he would ‘put money on’ Miller suffering from schizophrenia which had been intensified by his drug use. 

Miller's three-week murder trial heard the student was in a psychotic state when he believed Ms Wardle (pictured) was a demon that was 'sucking the life out of him'

Miller’s three-week murder trial heard the student was in a psychotic state when he believed Ms Wardle (pictured) was a demon that was ‘sucking the life out of him’

Over the three-week murder trial, the court heard Miller has not experienced any other psychotic episodes since Ms Wardle’s death and has not taken any antipsychotic medication since January, 2021. 

Ms Wardle’s mother Tania Simshauser took the stand during the trial and spoke of the adoration her daughter had had for Miller. 

She told the court she had referred to the 22-year-old as a ‘big, shy genius’. 

Miller was called a ‘gentle giant’ by friends and family who also took the stand. 

However, several said they had noticed certain behavioural changes in him which came into focus after he was charged with Ms Wardle’s murder. 

Witnesses said he had become more argumentative and had spoken of being more intelligent and losing his ‘ego’ since his acid ‘trip’ on June 11. 

He got in contact with a counselling service through his job at a Caltex service station and later disclosed to authorities he believed he was getting messages from the service about demons.  

Ms Wardle's mother Tania Simshauser took the stand during the three-week trial and spoke of the adoration her daughter (pictured) had had for Miller

Ms Wardle’s mother Tania Simshauser took the stand during the three-week trial and spoke of the adoration her daughter (pictured) had had for Miller

Miller had stolen his girlfriend’s car the night before she died and driven it to her ‘favourite’ spot in Morpeth where he had planned to end his own life. 

However, after speaking with Ms Wardle on the phone he returned home. 

Appearing in court via video-link in the day after his arrest, Miller had repeatedly told the court he was a ‘murderer’ despite his lawyer’s pleas. 

‘I wrapped my hands around Emerald Wardle’s throat,’ he said, despite his legal aid solicitor asking he remain silent. 

The 22-year-old, who has no prior domestic violence convictions, had also told authorities he had been aware that he was strangling Ms Wardle. 

Miller was remanded in custody to be sentenced at a later date. 

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