Saturday 3 December 2016

Man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity

Alison O'Riordan

Published 09/02/2016 | 02:30

Mairead Moran
Mairead Moran
Shane Smyth

A man who stabbed shop worker Mairead Moran to death while suffering from severe paranoid schizophrenia has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

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The Central Criminal Court heard that Shane Smyth (29) believed Ms Moran had stolen a vial of his blood and had placed hidden cameras and black widow spiders in his house.

Mr Smyth, with an address at McGuinness House, Evans Lane, Kilkenny, was charged with murdering Ms Moran (26) on May 8, 2014, at the Market Cross Shopping Centre in Kilkenny city.

Mr Smyth had pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Moran by reason of insanity.

The jury at his trial was told that the facts of the case were not disputed and last week forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright gave evidence that Mr Smyth was suffering from severe paranoid schizophrenia at the time.

A second forensic psychiatrist, Dr Paul O'Connell from the Central Mental Hospital, also gave evidence that the accused was suffering from schizophrenia and was "not capable of forming a specific intent".

Yesterday in her charge to the jury Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan said there were three possible verdicts open to them, but the verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity" would be in accordance with the lengthy evidence heard in the case.

"The law requires that you must make a finding of fact in this case and a verdict other than the verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity means you would be rejecting the evidence of the two psychiatrists," said the judge.

Finishing her charge, Ms Justice Heneghan said the "evidence in this case all points one way".

The jury of three men and nine women spent 55 minutes deliberating before bringing in a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

After they had delivered their verdict, the judge thanked the jurors for their time as they had been longer in court "than anticipated" and excused them from jury service for the rest of their lives.

Ms Justice Heneghan addressed the jury saying: "You have performed a critical task. It has been a difficult trial and some of the elements were extremely upsetting and disturbing."

At the request of prosecution counsel Mr John O'Kelly SC, Ms Justice Heneghan ordered that Mr Smyth be detained in the Central Mental Hospital and put in the matter for February 15.

Ms Justice Heneghan said: "There are two families involved and I can only extend my sympathy and those of the registrar to Mairead Moran's family.

"It has also been a difficult trial for members of the Smyth family and I thank that family for having behaved as to how I asked them to in court."

During the trial, witness James Coffey, who was working as a security guard at the Market Cross Shopping Centre on the day of the fatal stabbing, told how he saw Ms Moran slumped at the door of the Holland and Barrett shop with Mr Smyth standing a couple of feet away.

The court heard it was only when Mr Coffey pushed Mr Smyth back that he saw a "bloodied knife in his hand" and shouted at Mr Smyth to drop it.

The witness agreed with counsel that there was "a complete blank look on his face" and "he was stone-faced."

Irish Independent

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