Friday 23 March 2018

De Rossa's son 'not guilty through insanity' of attack

Conor Gallagher

THE son of a former government minister has been found not guilty through insanity of assaulting his father in their home.

Proinsias De Rossa (72) had given a graphic account to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of the vicious attack by his son Fearghal (46), and how he had feared for his life.

Yesterday, the court was told that the only reason Mr De Rossa Snr had pursued the prosecution of his son was to get him to submit to psychiatric treatment.

The jury returned the not guilty verdict following a brief deliberation after being told by the judge the appropriate verdict was not guilty under the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2010.

Judge Desmond Hogan committed the defendant to the Central Mental Hospital for treatment.

Fearghal De Rossa severely punched and beat his father in an unprovoked attack.

A passerby gave evidence that he was sure he was trying to kill his father as he beat him with a shovel in front of their house.

The trial heard evidence from two psychiatrists that Fearghal suffers from a mental disorder and did not know that what he was doing was wrong. Judge Hogan told the jury it was "perfectly safe" to arrive at a verdict of not guilty through insanity.

Fearghal, of Old Finglas Road, Glasnevin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to the former Labour MEP at their home on November 11, 2011.

Under the Criminal Law Insanity Act, a person may use the defence of insanity if they can prove they suffered from a mental illness at the time, which compelled them to commit the crime or prevented them understanding their actions.

During Fearghal's trial, the prosecution and defence both agreed he was legally insane at the time of the attack. However, a trial was required because the Act states that only a jury can decide if the insanity defence is valid.

Dr Brenda Wright told prosecuting counsel Tara Burns that Fearghal suffered from a schizo-affective disorder, causing persistent delusions. She said Fearghal believed he was being persecuted by the gardai and that his father was helping them.

An expert defence witness largely agreed with Dr Wright. Professor Patricia Casey said Fearghal was drinking to excess at the time and had almost completely stopped taking his medication.

She said he was now responding to medication and his family was keen to re-establish their relationship with him.

Irish Independent

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