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Friday 22 August 2014

Man (35) accused of murdering father pleads not guilty by reason of insanity

Niamh O’Donoghue

Published 29/05/2014 | 17:40

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A 35-year-old Mayo man accused of murdering his elderly father has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

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John Biggins of Ballynalty, Cross, Claremorris has pleaded not guilty to murdering Thomas Biggins (70) at that address on May 6, 2012.

The accused was arraigned before the court on Monday and entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Today the court heard the accused was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was on disability allowance.

The court was told that the 100-acre farmer was shot twice with his own legally held shotgun in his own yard.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate him at the scene but he was later pronounced dead at Galway University Hospital at 3.35pm.

The court heard State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out a post mortem and said the cause of death was a shotgun wound to left side of the chest. Prof Cassidy said a shotgun wound to the right hand was a contributing factor.

In his opening speech Mr Bernard Condon SC prosecuting told the jury the defence of insanity was being raised in the case.

Mr Condon said that the burden rests on the accused person to prove they were insane at the time of the killing.

He said that Dr Paul O’Connell, a consultant forensic psychiatrist from the Central Mental Hospital, would tell the court that the accused was insane.

He said Dr Stephen Monks, another consultant forensic psychiatrist from the same hospital, would also give evidence and is of the same opinion.

Detective Sergeant James Carroll told Mr Condon that the accused was one of five children but the eldest had passed away.

He told gardai in an interview that he went out the yard and saw his father’s 12-gauge shotgun, which was loaded with two cartridges, against a pillar and took it.

He said his father was coming from the calving boxes when he met him by coincidence and shot him twice.

 “He asked me did I shoot my geese and I pulled the trigger on him,” he told gardai.

“He was just there and I pulled the trigger…I don’t know what was going through my mind,” he added.

The accused said he went back in the house, gave the gun to his brother and phoned 999.

“I wasn’t in my right state of mind…It’s pure insane what I did,” he told gardai.

“I had thoughts of taking my life in a nice way before shooting my father,” he said. When asked how he was going to he replied that he was going to “do it with gas.”

In garda interviews the accused said his father had abused him “left right and centre when I was young”.

“I wanted to get away from home, I wanted to get to prison, that’s it.”

He said he had tried to kill himself three or four times and that you should be able to go to a clinic to die.

Det Sgt Carroll agreed with John Jordan SC defending that the accused had no previous convictions and was from a fine upstanding family.

Det Sgt Carroll agreed the behaviour after the event was “quite bizarre” and the accused said immediately afterwards “I just shot the aul lad…I’ll be going to jail now.”

He said the accused rang 999 and spoke to Garda Mark Kilbride telling him: “Hello garda, I’m turning myself in, I shot my father.”

The accused then drove to Ballinrobe Garda Station and handed himself in where he was co-operative throughout his detention.

Det Sgt Carroll agreed with Mr Jordan that there was confirmation that the accused had been looking up websites on how to kill yourself.

He further agreed that there was a hangman’s noose on a rope, which was found in the loft of the barn as well as two other ropes.

He also agreed that the accused had contemplated hanging himself between May 3 and May 6.

He agreed it was apparent from an early stage that they were looking at “quite bizarre behaviour” and they would be seeking a mental appraisal of the accused.

The trial continues with Mr Justice Paul Carney presiding.

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