Thursday 18 December 2014

Nurse tells court murder accused was 'nonchalant and relaxed' after alleged incident

Niamh O’Donoghue

Published 15/07/2014 | 14:11

Ian Harman of Mountain Lodge, Cootehill, Co. Cavan who was due to appear in Harristown Court, Co. Roscommon on Friday on charges relating to the death of psychiatric patient Michael Treanor at Cavan General Hospital.
Ian Harman

A nurse has told the trial of a man charged with murdering an elderly man in a psychiatric unit that the accused was nonchalant and relaxed after the incident.

Ian Harman (50), of Carrickallen, Mountain Lodge, Cootehill, Co Cavan, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Michael Treanor at the Psychiatric Unit of Cavan General Hospital, Lisdarn, Co Cavan, on June 27, 2011.

Today, psychiatric nurse Ciaran Boyle told Paddy McCarthy SC prosecuting that he came on duty at 7.30pm on the evening in question.

He told the court that Mr Treanor was suffering from Alzheimers dementia and that he had met Mr Harman previously.

Mr Boyle said the accused was pacing a lot the day before the incident and his preoccupation was sleep.

He testified Mr Harman went to bed at 10.30pm after being prescribed a sleeping tablet.

The witness said the accused slept from 11.30pm until 3.30pm when he walked up the corridor towards the smoking area.

Mr Boyle told the court that he left the staff room at 6.30am the next morning and met nurse Kathleen Treanor.

Mr Boyle said the nurse told her Mr Treanor had been killed and that the accused had said he had done something.

He said he ran up to Mr Treanor’s room where he saw him lying on his back with blood coming from his nose and his ear.

The witness said Mr Harman was in the smoking room and when he asked him what he had done the accused told him that he had killed Mr Treanor “because he was an east target or an easy option.”

“He was quite nonchalant and relaxed - he didn’t seem agitated,” he said.

Mr Boyle said that the two men previously looked to get on quite well and Mr Harman appeared to be chaperoning Mr Treanor around the unit.

The witness told the court that patients were checked every half an hour from 11pm to 7.30pm.

Under cross-examination he agreed with Caroline Biggs SC defending that the accused could not get thoughts of killing himself out of his head.

Mr Boyle further agreed that Mr Harman was pacing for eight hours on the Saturday.

Last week the court was told how Mr Harman informed gardai after his arrest that he had  “fantasising about ways of getting into prison” and considered killing “a couple of his neighbours” prior to his admission to hospital.

He said during his garda interview that he had been “thinking of killing Michael Treanor for a couple mornings now”.

He said: “I knew exactly what I was doing when I killed Michael Treanor. He was an easy target. He was an old man who had dementia. He did not seem to have any life but that did not give me the right to kill him.”

Opening the trial, Mr McCarthy said Mr Harman, who was originally from England, had been admitted to the unit following a suicide attempt.

Ms Biggs told the jury at the beginning of the trial that she was instructed “to make certain submissions on behalf of her client”, which included that the accused accepted he caused the death of Mr Treanor.

She said she hoped such admissions would help the jury “focus on the state of mind of the accused”.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and a jury of six men and six women.

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