Wednesday 17 January 2018

'Bad spirits' led man to attack priest in church

Declan Brennan

A man who said "bad spirits" caused him to assault a priest has been given a suspended three-year prison sentence.

Liam Farrell (56) attacked the priest inside his church with a chalice before going on to try to gouge the eyes of a sacristan. The court heard he was suffering from a temporary psychiatric illness brought on by a drug used to treat Hepatitis C.

He later told gardai that after taking the drug, named Interferon, he began experiencing manic depressive episodes and had made two suicide attempts.

Defence counsel Niall Nolan told the court that the expert view was that Interferon was a trigger for Farrell's condition.

Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted Farrell was suffering from a psychiatric illness at the time but warned him he will go to prison if he continues to misbehave.

Farrell of Conquer Hill Road, Clontarf, Dublin, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault causing harm and one count of criminal damage at St Gabriel's Church, St Gabriel's Road, Dollymount, Dublin on June 26, 2011.

Garda Trevor Madden told prosecutor Fiona McGowan that the first man Farrell attacked was a Romanian national who was sitting with his wife and child outside the church at around 9.30am.

Constantine Rostas told gardai later that Farrell jumped on him and tried to dislodge his eye with his finger. Mr Rostas managed to push Farrell off but was left with a blood clot.

Farrell then went into church and took a ciborium -- an ornate cup used to hold wafers -- and lunged at the head of Fr Patrick McManus, striking him with it and then chasing the priest around the church.

He then attacked Michael Dillon, an elderly sacristan. He held Mr Dillon in a headlock and tried to gouge his eyes out.

Counsel said his client had since gone to Fr McManus to express his deep shame and remorse and later wrote a letter of apology to Mr Dillon.

Irish Independent

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