Tuesday 6 December 2016

Man who stabbed his mother to death 'did not have the capacity to form intent', forensic psychiatrist tells jury

Alison O'Riordan

Published 16/02/2016 | 14:17

Paul Henry told gardaí: ‘I’m after killing my mother.’ Picture: Hany Marzouk
Paul Henry told gardaí: ‘I’m after killing my mother.’ Picture: Hany Marzouk

A forensic psychiatrist has told a jury that a Roscommon man who stabbed his mother to death "did not have the capacity to form intent because of his mental disorder."

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Paul Henry (29) with an address at Ardsallagh, Athlone Road, Roscommon is charged with murdering his mother Ann Henry at Abbeystown, Ballyphesan in Roscommon town on September 17 2011.

Yesterday at the Central Criminal Court Mr Henry pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Henry by reason of insanity.

Today prosecution counsel Ms Caroline Biggs SC called forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright to give evidence.

Dr Wright told the court she was asked to prepare a report on behalf of the DPP and she met with the accused on three occasions which were March 14 2014, March 21 2014 and February 8 2016.

The court heard Paul Henry told Dr Wright that two years prior to his mother's death he used to think the world of his mother

When Dr Wright interviewed Paul Henry's father, he told him his late wife was "never willing to accept Paul was unwell" and no matter what he did "she was prepared to forgive him."

The court heard his parents separation two to three years prior to Ms Henry's death was "largely down to their different approach managing their son's behaviour."

Dr Wright told counsel that Paul Henry was "disruptive in class" and was suspended from primary school for six months. 

Dr Wright told the court his father recalled an incident where his son ran away from school aged five and later threw a rock at his teacher.

Mr Henry sat his Junior Certificate and later went on to work in construction as a general labourer.

A child and adolescent psychiatrist assessed Paul Henry's psychiatric history at the age of 19 and diagnosed him with ADHD, making some

suggestions regarding possible medication.

Paul Henry was assessed again by a psychiatrist at the age of twenty and diagnosed with "a borderline intellectual disability."

The court heard Paul Henry had a history of heavy drinking and experienced "alcoholic blackouts but no mood symptoms or psychosis."

He served a ten month sentence in prison at the age of 24 for a number of drink driving offences.

Mr Henry's second prison sentence was for three months and he served most of that in Loughan House.

The accused told Dr Wright that two years prior to his mother's death that "she was out to kill him" but he did not think she would kill him

herself "but would get someone to do it."

"He began to realise as he got older that she could get him to do anything she wanted him to. When he came across a cow on the road he

said his mother had planted it," said Dr Wright.

The court also heard Mr Henry believed there was a bomb in the radio in his house after lending it to a friend.

"Mr Henry told me a week before the alleged offence, he told his mother he was going to cut her fingers off after consuming a bottle of

brandy," said Dr Wright.

Dr Wright diagnosed Paul Henry with "paranoid schizophrenia" which is characterised by "delusions and negative symptoms."

She said his delusion was in part related to his mother and "he thought she and others were conspiring to harm him."

The court heard at the time of her interview in March 2014 Mr Henry continued to harbour delusions regarding his mother.

"In more recent interviews there has been some improvement but he continues to harbour delusions regarding his mother and the alleged

offence," she said.

The court heard his illness was complicated by his "own lack of insight into his condition."

"It is also my opinion that Mr Henry has a personality disorder, lack of concern for feelings of others, an incapacity to experience guilt

and a readiness to blame others for his behaviour," said Dr Wright.

Dr Wright said at the time Mr Henry did not have the capacity to form intent because of his mental disorder.

"Mr Henry did not know the nature or quality of his act and misunderstood the quality of his actions. He believed his mother

intended to have him killed, he believed if he did not kill his mother that he himself would be killed. He felt he had to proceed with her

death," said Dr Wright.

In Dr Wright's opinion she believed Paul Henry was unable to refrain from his actions and could identify no alternative form of action.

The witness agreed with Mr Justice Tony Hunt that if a special verdict is returned by the jury, special treatment would be required.

The trial continues.

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