Thursday 27 July 2017

Man admits strangling girlfriend after hearing voices - court is told

Accused: Oisin Conroy and victim Natalie McGuinness
Accused: Oisin Conroy and victim Natalie McGuinness

Alison O'Riordan

A 34-year-old murder accused who strangled his girlfriend was suffering from schizophrenia and "believed he was in the Matrix", a trial has heard.

The Central Criminal trial of Oisin Conroy also heard he told gardaí there was a struggle in his mind "between the devil and Jesus" and a voice came in his head saying he had to kill his then girlfriend Natalie McGuinness.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Fiona Toal also gave evidence yesterday in the trial of Mr Conroy. She said the accused had a long history of psychiatric illness, had stopped taking his anti-psychotic medication in the months before the killing, and his family had become concerned about him.

Mr Conroy, with an address at St Joseph's Terrace, Boyle, Co Roscommon, is charged with murdering Ms McGuinness (23) at The Mews, Mail Coach Road, Sligo, on October 28, 2015.

He was arraigned before the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms McGuinness by reason of insanity.

Earlier, defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC made a number of admissions on behalf of his client including Mr Conroy accepted that by his acts he had caused the death of Ms McGuinness by strangulation.

He also said the sole issue was the mental state of the accused.

Yesterday afternoon, Detective Sergeant Patrick Harney from Sligo garda station testified that Ms McGuinness and the accused had been going out for four months prior to the incident.

On the morning of October 28, Mr Conroy made a 999 phone call to emergency services requesting an ambulance and paramedics. He said: "I've killed my friend, I've strangled her, I gave her a rear naked choke hold."

Det Sgt Harney said ambulance control guided Mr Conroy through CPR. Mr Conroy was found standing over Ms McGuinness who was lying naked in a bedroom beside the bed, he said.

Gardaí asked Mr Conroy to step back as he was in an aggressive stance, breathing heavily and his fists were clenched. He was then tasered and became subdued.

In Sligo General Hospital, Mr Conroy told gardaí: "I can't believe what I've done, I've killed Natalie my friend, I've killed her."

He continued: "With my hands I stabbed her, I stabbed Natalie, I did it with my hands."

Mr Conroy told gardaí in his interviews that Ms McGuinness attacked him with a knife and he was defending himself. "I strangled her with a rear naked choke which I learned from Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She struggled so hard, I knew I had to kill her, kill her, kill her," he said.

The court heard Mr Conroy's sister had concerns about his mental health and various social workers and counsellors had been involved in his treatment and care as an outpatient in the time leading up to October 28.

The court was told that Mr Conroy was seen by an outpatient service in September 2015 and it was noted he had stopped taking his medication three months previously. This was six weeks before he strangled Ms McGuinness.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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