Saturday 3 December 2016

Man who admitted killing journalist Tom O'Gorman and consuming organ stopped medication after attending Dublin clinic, court told

Alison O’Riordan

Published 30/07/2015 | 18:56

Saverio Bellante. Inset: Tom O’Gorman
Saverio Bellante. Inset: Tom O’Gorman

Two consultant psychiatrists have told a murder trial jury that an Italian man who admitted killing his landlord in Castleknock last year fulfils the criteria for a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

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Saverio Bellante (36) with an address at Beech Park Avenue, Castleknock, Dublin 15 is charged with murdering Thomas O'Gorman at an unknown time between January 11 2014 and January 12 2014 at the above address.

Tom O'Gorman
Tom O'Gorman

Last Monday at the Central Criminal Court Mr Bellante pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O'Gorman.

Read more here: Italian man has admitted killing his landlord and eating body parts, jury hears  

Earlier this morning the jury heard that the Italian man admitted killing his landlord in Castleknock last year and told gardai in interview that he ate what he believed to be a part of the deceased's heart.

This afternoon consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Stephen Monks from the Central Mental Hospital was called by prosecution counsel Patrick Gageby SC.

The court heard Dr Monks was asked by the DPP to do a psychiatric assessment on the accused where Mr Bellante told him he was first hospitalised in Palermo in Italy in 2005.

"He said it took him ten years to do his primary degree as he was taking anti psychotic and mood stabilising medication which made his concentration poor so this was part of the reason for problems with his academic work," said Dr Monks.

Accused Saverio Bellante
Accused Saverio Bellante

Read more here: Jury sworn in for trial of Italian man accused of Castleknock murder  

Upon moving to Ireland in 2011 he was engaged with mental health services in Ireland and up to January 9, 2014, Mr Bellante had been attending a clinic on Baggot Street roughly every two months.

Dr Monks said it was there a consultant psychiatrist told him he could come off his medication gradually. However the court heard his doctor in Italy said he should remain on his medication all his life.

The jury were told that two days before the murder he had attended an out-patient appointment at the Dublin clinic where the anti-psychotic medication Olanzapine he had been on was stopped.

"His medication was coming down gradually since coming to Ireland and he stopped his last visit on January 9, 2014. According to clinical records the dose was reduced in January 2012 until finally being discontinued on January 9, 2014. By January 10, he started to feel unwell and begin to interpret things to be good or evil and became preoccupied with signs of good or evil," said the doctor.

Read more here: Insanity will be an issue in case of man accused of murdering Tom O'Gorman, court hears  

Dr Monks told the jury Mr Bellante told him he experienced Mr O'Gorman staring at him as if he was "strange or dangerous" while they were playing chess on the night in question.

“I've never seen anyone look at me in that way. He wanted to stop my freedom, when playing there are common rules, he was acting for himself," read Dr Monks from his report which set out to examine the mental state of the accused.

Dr Monks said the accused felt the deceased was "fighting the side of evil" whereas Mr Bellante thought he was respecting the chess game.

The court heard Mr Bellante saw Mr O'Gorman as the devil whereas he was Jesus Christ and he proceeded to stab him four or five times with a knife.

“I thought the way to finish him was to eat his heart as it was the way to good and evil. I thought initially to cook it in the pan," read the doctor.

Mr Bellante was admitted to the Central Mental Hospital on January 14,2015, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The court heard this mental disorder is classed under five headings and Mr Bellante displayed "symptoms of several of these domains such as delusions but not hallucinations."

"Despite having the presence of this, it didn't impair his ability to stand trial or plead. His delusional mood started over a few days and progressed to frank delusional thinking and the battle between good and evil until he became profoundly paranoid. He had a belief that killing Mr O'Gorman and eating his heart would put an end to evil in the world," said Dr Monks.

Dr Monks told the jury as a result of his schizophrenia he didn't know the nature and quality of the act he carried out.

"Why he knew to kill a man was wrong in the eyes of the law, he thought what he was doing was right and entirely justified so he was unable to reason outside of his psychotic thought processes and he didn't know what he doing was morally wrong," added the witness.

In his opinion Dr Monks told the court Mr Bellante fulfils the criteria for a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Defence counsel Sean Guerin SC then called Dr Conor O'Neill who told the court he met the accused on January 14, 2014, at Cloverhill Prison and performed the first psychiatric assessment of him.

Dr O'Neill said Mr Bellante was on two forms of medication, Olanzapine which is to trace psychotic symptoms such as delusions and the second medication was Sodium valproate, used to stabilise mood.

The court heard the amount of anti psychotic medication Olanzapine started to be reduced by 2.5 milligrams in January 2012 until it became zero by January 9, 2014, two days prior to the killing of Mr O'Gorman. 

Following blood tests after the murder the levels of Sodium valproate was found to be lower than the therapeutic measure generally given.

However, Dr O'Neill told the court that one or more dose had perhaps been missed and this medication isn't the one that keeps psychotic symptoms in check.

Dr O'Neill also told the court that Mr Bellante meets the criteria of not guilty by verdict of insanity.

"Mr Bellante has been diagnosed since his early 20’s and his disorder is a mental disorder. He has been on medication for ten years although it was reduced when he relapsed. The interviews with gardai suggest he was deluded and he did not know what he doing was wrong," said the witness.

The trial continues.

 

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