Thursday 8 December 2016

Slain parents 'didn't want to have son committed'

Eoin Reynolds

Published 09/06/2016 | 02:30

Julian Cuddihy believed mum was trying to poison him Photo: Margaret McLaughlin
Julian Cuddihy believed mum was trying to poison him Photo: Margaret McLaughlin

The family of a paranoid schizophrenic wanted to get him psychiatric help in the weeks before he killed his parents with an axe, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

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Julian Cuddihy (43) has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder of his parents Kathleen (73) and James (77) at their family home in Churchtown, Carndonagh, Co Donegal, on October 22, 2014.

Yesterday Detective Garda Bernard Mullins of Buncrana Garda Station told prosecuting counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley SC that Julian's father cancelled an appointment with local mental health services six days before the violent episode that left him and his wife dead.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Damian Mohan gave further evidence that Julian's parents were concerned about the stigma associated with mental health. Speaking to defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, he said that Mrs Cuddihy, in particular, did not want him to be committed and worried that he would resent them if they had him hospitalised against his will.

At that time Mr Cuddihy was refusing to eat because he believed his mother was trying to poison him. He could not sleep because he worried that people were stealing his thoughts while he slept and he believed he could prevent aliens from reading his mind if he joined the IRA. He was convinced people were conspiring against him and had taken to sleeping in an annex attached to the family home with an axe for protection.

His symptoms had been building for several years and in December of the previous year the family met their GP to discuss the possibility of having him committed but, Dr Mohan said, the decision was deferred.

By October 2014, his behaviour was so erratic that his siblings felt he needed immediate psychiatric help, but his parents resisted enforced committal to a psychiatric unit.

Dr Mohan said the parents shared their family's concerns but "did not want to follow through". "They wanted to be protective of their son but also did not want him to be submitted to a mental health facility," he said.

Dr Mohan added the family is extremely unified and loving and only ever wanted what was best for Julian. But he added that mental illness is treatable with early intervention.

"Hindsight is a fine thing," he said, adding that Mr Cuddihy has made strong progress since being committed to the Central Mental Hospital following the attack on his parents.

Detailing the nature of Julian's delusions, he said he spoke to him about what he believed in the days leading up to the attack. He said Mr Cuddihy heard voices and believed that he was going to be taken away by aliens to the Matrix, referring to the Keanu Reeves film in which reality is simulated by a computer.

The trial continues today in front of Justice Margaret Heneghan and a jury of seven women and five men.

Irish Independent

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