Saturday 24 March 2018

Accused was mentally ill at time of alleged killing of his father, psychiatrist tells trial

A 15-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a school principal
A 15-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a school principal

Niamh O’Donoghue

A consultant forensic psychiatrist has told the trial of a 35-year-old Mayo man charged with murdering his elderly father that the accused was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing and his judgement was grossly impaired.

John Biggins of Ballynalty, Cross, Claremorris, Co Mayo, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Thomas Biggins (70) at that address on May 6, 2012.

The accused was arraigned before the court on Monday and entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Central Criminal Court has heard the accused was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was on disability allowance.

The court was told that the 100-acre farmer was shot twice with his own legally held shotgun.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate him at the scene but he was later pronounced dead at Galway University Hospital at 3.35pm.

The court heard State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out a post mortem and said the cause of death was a shotgun wound to left side of the chest. Prof Cassidy said a shotgun wound to the right hand was a contributing factor.

Today, defence witness Dr Paul O’ Connell of the Central Mental Hospital said that a mental state examination showed the accused had a range of psychotic symptoms and had a mild intellectual disability.

Dr O’Connell told John Jordan SC defending it was his opinion that the accused was mentally ill at the material time and his judgement was grossly impaired.

He said that the accused was emotionally disconnected from the enormity of his actions.

Dr O’ Connell said he had a psychotic urge to shoot his father in order to go to prison.

He said it was his opinion that the accused fulfilled two out of the three criteria under the Mental Insanity Act.

Mr Justice Paul Carney told the court that he would deal with the law and that he only needed to score one out of the three criteria.

He agreed with Mr Jordan that the accused had paranoid persecution delusions about his father being abusive to him, which would be very hurtful to his family.

Dr O’ Connell said that the accused thought that he was Elvis and thought that he had relationships with celebrity women.

He also said the accused thought that aliens were trying to control him.

On July 26, 2012 the accused told a doctor that he though he saw the devil on the day of the shooting.

Dr Stephen Monks, another consultant forensic psychiatrist from the same hospital, is due to give evidence this afternoon.

In his opening speech Mr Bernard Condon SC prosecuting told the jury that the burden rests on the accused person to prove they were insane at the time of the killing.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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