The trial of the 36-year-old man accused of stabbing Hobart shopkeeper Voula Delios to death two years ago, begun last week

Daryl Royston Wayne Cook pleaded not guilty on grounds of mental illness.

Delios’s daughter and sister sat in the back of the court during the proceedings.

According to prosecutor Daryl Coates, the defendant had been released from Risdon Prison the day before the incident, which took place on 23 July 2016. He had told prison chaplains, that he was a “Christian crusader and there was a war of heathens and that justice needed to be served.”

On that day, the defendant had entered the grocery store several times, before proceeding to stab the shopkeeper 22 times. “The accused began stabbing Mrs Delios to the neck on many occasions using a small kitchen knife he purchased from Target the previous day,” said the prosecutor, describing how, at the time of his arrest, Cook said that “he had located a heathen and he executed her.”

The defence did not dispute that the accused had caused Mrs Delios’s death, but claimed that he cannot be criminally responsible for his actions, as he was suffering from mental illness.

The trial is expected to run for up to four days; a forensic psychiatrist is expected to give evidence of the accused’s mental state.