Saturday 1 October 2016

Man who stabbed his mother to death found not guilty of her murder by reason of insanity

Alison O'Riordan

Published 17/02/2016 | 12:16

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
Ann Henry: Post-mortem found 10 wounds on her body

A man who stabbed his mother to death over four years ago has been found not guilty of her murder by reason of insanity.

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

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

At the beginning of the trial, defence counsel Mr Colm Smyth SC told the jury of eight men and four women that his client admitted he killed his mother.

During the trial Mr Smyth called consultant psychiatrist Professor Tom Fahey to give evidence and he told the court Mr Henry suffers from a psychotic disorder which he called "delusional disorder".

The court heard in Prof Fahey's opinion Paul Henry was "unable to refrain from committing the act" and this "propelled him" to acting in the way in which he said he did.

Yesterday prosecution counsel Ms Caroline Biggs SC called forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright to give evidence and she diagnosed Paul Henry with "paranoid schizophrenia."

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

The jury spent one hour 36 minutes deliberating before bringing in a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

After they had delivered their verdict, Mr Justice Tony Hunt thanked the twelve jurors for their service and the "pain staking approach they took."

Mr Justice Hunt then addressed the jury saying: "You decided the verdict with great care and detail. It’s a legally correct verdict on the evidence and a humane verdict. Mr Henry is a very unwell man and it would be inhumane to treat him as a criminal. I think it is 100% likely he will committed to a place where he will be safe."

The judge then said that jury service is essential and he is always impressed by "the serious and considered approach jury's take."

"You have to react in a cold way when dealing with hot issues," he said.

Mr Justice Hunt exempted them from jury service for six years. 

The judge then ordered that Mr Henry be detained in the Central Mental Hospital and put in the matter for tomorrow morning at 10.30am.

Opening the case for the prosecution two days ago, Ms Caroline Biggs SC told the court the evidence would be that on September 17 2011 Paul Henry "fatally assaulted" his mother by stabbing her in her house at The Spinney, Abbeytown, Roscommon.

The barrister said the accused then continued "to kick and punch" his mother outside the house which was seen by a number of witnesses on the day.

Ms Biggs said Mr Henry told gardai at the time: "It took a lot out of me to do this, I'm after killing my mother."

The court heard that Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said that Ms Henry had sustained ten wounds "some of which were to her thoracic aorta and right lung."

Ms Biggs then called Detective Inspector Pat Finley who agreed with counsel on a summary of the facts and details of the case.

The court heard that one witness said a man was pursuing Ms Henry as she ran towards the main road screaming with blood on her forehead.

"He was shouting at her and going around her body kicking her in the head, ribs and back. She said he looked crazy, his pupils were huge," read Ms Biggs.

Another witness said the man had a brush in his hands and started to hit Ms Henry's legs with it and when it broke he started to kick her.

At 2pm on September 17 the gardai received a 999 call from a woman saying there was a violent assault taking place and Mr Henry was

arrested for assault causing harm.

The court heard when Mr Henry was placed in the rear of the patrol car he said to a garda: "It took a lot out of me."

Ms Biggs said that in Ms Henry's house gardai noticed a "knife handle but with a blood like substance on the surface."

Ann Henry was pronounced dead at 15.51 on September 17 and her cause of death was multiple stab wounds.

After a consultant psychiatrist was called to the garda station, Mr Henry was remanded to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) and on September 18 he was formally charged.

Det Insp Finley agreed with counsel that there had been "disturbed behaviour" and a "number of events that preceded the assault" including Ms Henry asking a doctor to admit her son as "a voluntary patient to Roscommon psychiatric unit."

However, a mental health tribunal decided he did not fulfil the criteria to be detained at a psychiatric unit and Mr Henry was released from hospital in August 2011. 

Ms Biggs read that the accused had beliefs that his brother had "planted bombs in the house" and his mother "had put a cow in the road to stop him driving."

During the trial defence counsel Mr Smyth called consultant psychiatrist Professor Tom Fahey to give evidence.

Prof Fahey told the court it "remained clear" that Mr Henry suffers from a psychotic disorder which he called "delusional disorder."

The court heard in the doctor's opinion Paul Henry was "unable to refrain from committing the act" and this "propelled him" to acting in the way in which he said he did.

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

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

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.

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