News Courts

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Psychiatric patient accused of murder told nurse he 'did a bad thing', court told

Peter Doyle

Published 10/07/2014 | 18:19

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Ian Harman of Mountain Lodge, Cootehill, Co. Cavan

A psychiatric patient accused of murdering a fellow patient told a garda he fantasised about ways of getting in to prison and considered killing his neighbours before his admission to hospital, a court was told today.

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

The court was told today that Detective Garda Kieron King interviewed the accused after he had been taken into custody and cautioned at Cavan garda station hours after the alleged offence.

And notes made by Det Gda King during the interview were read out in court by prosecuting counsel Paddy McCarthy SC.

Det Gda King’s notes described how the accused said he felt “inadequate as a father” and had been “fantasising about ways of getting into prison”.

According to the detective’s notes, Mr Harman said he had also considered killing “a couple of his neighbours” prior to his admission to hospital. 

Mr Harman then informed Det Gda King: “I have been thinking of killing Michael Treanor for a couple mornings now.”

The accused also told the detective that he believed he had his “wits about him” at the time of the alleged offence and that he chose Mr Treanor as his alleged victim, who had been suffering from dementia, because the 82-year-old was an “easy target”.

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.”

Mr Harman also described to Det Gda King how Mr Treanor’s body gave a jolt after he strangled him with a belt and placed a pillow over his face to suffocate him.

He said: “There was movement from him as I tightened the belt. He gave a jolt. I then got off the bed, leaving the pillow over his face.”

Garda Christine Gallagher was on duty as the “member in charge” at Cavan garda station when Mr Harman was brought into custody.

The accused was described as “sober and alert” in Gda Gallagher’s notes from that day, which were also read out in court by Mr McCarthy.

Gda Gallagher’s notes also described how Mr Harman’s wife visited her husband at the station later the same day

The notes added: “Mrs Harman asked what he had done. Mr Harman said he had strangled and suffocated Michael Treanor.

“She then asked why. She said he was ‘a nice man’. He said that ‘because I am evil. I am an evil man.’

“He then asked her for tobacco but she declined.

“Mrs Harman then left the room. She was in an upset state.”

Opening the trial earlier this week, Mr McCarthy said Mr Harman, who was originally from England, was a voluntary patient at the unit; while Mr Treanor, who was from Co Monaghan, had been admitted on an involuntary basis.

He said Mr Harman had been admitted to the unit following a suicide attempt.

Mr McCarthy said that on the morning of the alleged offence Mr Harman, had approached a nurse on his ward, Nurse Kathleen Treanor, and told her: “I’m after murdering Mick Treanor.”

Doctors were called as attempts to resuscitate Mr Treanor were made using CPR and but to “no avail", said Mr McCarthy.

Caroline Biggs SC, defending, told the jury earlier this week that she was instructed “to make certain submissions on behalf of her client”, which included that her client accepted he caused the death of Mr Treanor and that he had no issue or challenge with the identity of the deceased, the preservation of the scene or Mr Harman’s arrest and subsequent charge.

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

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

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