A murder trial has heard three medical professionals disagree on whether a drug-intoxicated man had a mental disorder when he stabbed his mother to death in their home.
The two forensic psychiatrists and a psychologist, all based at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), were giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court in the trial of Celyn Eadon.
Mr Eadon (22) of Derrycrieve, Islandeady, Castlebar, Co Mayo, admits Noreen Kelly’s manslaughter but has pleaded not guilty to her murder at that address.
The 46-year-old died of multiple stab wounds on March 9, 2011.
The jury heard that the accused had begun using drugs at the age of 10 and that was using a number of drugs around the time he killed his mother.
Senior Clinical Psychologist Dr Ken O’Reilly testified on Friday that he examined him following his referral to the CMH in late 2012.
Testifying for the defence, he concluded that the accused had organic brain impairment secondary to polysubstance misuse.
Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist Dr Paul O’Connell also gave evidence on behalf of the defence.
He said that the accused was intoxicated and experiencing substance-induced psychosis at the time of the killing and that this could affect the capacity to form a specific intent.
He said the accused had drug-induced brain injury, which had triggered drug-induced psychosis.
However, the prosecution yesterday called a second consultant forensic psychiatrist to give evidence.
Dr Conor O’Neill testified that the accused had taken large amounts of methamphetamine, amphetamine, methedrone and cannabis along with prescribed medication in the weeks leading to his mother’s death.
However, he did not find the accused to be suffering from a major mental illness within the meaning of the Criminal Law Insanity Act.
He said he had never found him to be paranoid or suffering from any paranoid illness, but said it was plausible that he had experienced psychotic episodes before the incident.
He said that there was a risk of harm to the brain as a result of taking drugs and that users could develop psychotic symptoms.
“This is not an uncommon situation,” he said.
“The overall majority of people in Irish prisons have a history of drug misuse and are likely to suffer some form of impairment as a consequence,” he explained.
“These drugs have harmful effects. This why clinicians advise against them,” he said. “Those effects would need to be very extreme to constitute a mental disorder.”
He said it would be remarkable for the accused not to have encountered some harm following years of drug use but was satisfied that he had not suffered any gross cognitive impairment.
“Celyn Eadon was extremely intoxicated at the time of his mother’s death and the symptoms he described were consistent with the effect of extreme intoxication,” he said, noting that intoxication was specifically excluded from the legal definition of a mental disorder.
He said any harm he had sustained from taking drugs was not sufficient to substantially diminish his responsibility.
Under cross examination by the defence, he said that a third of the prison population would be in the borderline to impaired range of cognitive function, but would not be suffering from a mental disorder under the Act.
“It’s a floodgate argument, isn’t it?” asked Diarmaid McGuinness SC.
“In part that,” he replied. “Any degree of impairment could, in theory, come within the meaning of the Act.”
He also agreed with both sides that the accused was intoxicated during his interviews with gardai.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of seven men and five women.