Saturday 17 March 2018

Family of 'gentle, kind-hearted' woman who was stabbed more than 100 times 'will never forgive killer'

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Stock Picture

Eoin Reynolds

The family of a woman who was stabbed more than 100 times by a man suffering a psychotic episode has described their shock at the manner of her death while she was a patient in a psychiatric hospital.

38-year-old Paul Cuddihy was today committed to the Central Mental Hospital for ongoing treatment.

Two weeks ago Mr Cuddihy, formerly of St Otteran's Hospital in Waterford was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of 55-year-old Maria O'Brien at St Otteran's on September 5 2014. The jury reached the same verdict on charges of assault causing harm to fellow hospital resident Mary Nugent and nurses Breda Fennelly, Terry Hayes and Mary Grant.

In his victim impact statement today Ms O'Brien's son Patrick Halley said he was close to his mother and that she was a vulnerable person who was not always shown the love she deserved.

He added: "Nevertheless, she was always a bubbly and happy person who nearly always had a smile on her face. She was a gentle, kind-hearted person who genuinely wouldn't harm a fly." She particularly loved her children, he said, and her last words to Paul Cuddihy were "remember the children".

"This shows how much she loved us all," he said. "And she is very much missed by her family and very much missed by myself."

He said he accepts Paul Cuddihy has a mental illness but said he will "never forgive him for what he did to my mother". He told the court that he had more to say but that he had been told he was not allowed to say it.

Ms O'Brien's brother Joe O'Mahony said he grew up not knowing his sister as they were raised separately following the break-up of their parents' marriage. When they got to know one another as adults they formed a bond.

"Maria was an innately warm-hearted individual who was kind, caring and would greet me and others with great childlike enthusiasm." He said they had an "unspoken love for each other".

The manner of her death had left him traumatised, he added, and he has suffered shock and lack of sleep after finding out that she cried out for help and "pleaded with her killer to stop".

"Maria has died and been taken from us in the most horrific way, especially in light of the fact that at this time she was actually making progress and improving. What life could have been like for her we will never know."

Following the statements by Ms O'Brien's family Dr Damian Mohan, a forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, told the court that he had assessed Paul Cuddihy following the trial verdict and is satisfied that he is still suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

He said he has made little progress and does not accept that he is ill or needs help. He said that he has shown little remorse and when questioned about Maria O'Brien's death he was dismissive and told him "it's over and done with, forget about it".

Justice Patrick McCarthy committed Mr Cuddihy to the Central Mental Hospital under Section 5 (2) of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act.

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