Monday 11 December 2017

Italian who ate the 'heart' of landlord is cleared of murder

Members of the gardai remove the body of Tom O’Gorman from his home on Beechpark Avenue Castleknock, Dublin
Members of the gardai remove the body of Tom O’Gorman from his home on Beechpark Avenue Castleknock, Dublin
Saverio Bellante admitted killing Mr O’Gorman
Tom O'Gorman

Alison O'Riordan

An Italian man who admitted killing his landlord and eating his body parts has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Saverio Bellante (36) was charged with murdering Thomas O'Gorman on an unknown time between January 11 and January 12, 2014.

Last Monday at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Bellante pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O'Gorman.

The jury spent one hour and 36 minutes deliberating before bringing in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Before returning their verdict, the foreman of the jury asked the presiding judge Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan if they could express an opinion on their verdict.

Ms Justice Heneghan refused, saying: "A jury cannot express an opinion on a verdict."

The judge committed Mr Bellante, with an address at Beech Park Avenue, Castleknock, Dublin 15 to the Central Mental Hospital and put in the matter for August 12.

The jury had heard that the Italian man admitted killing his landlord last year and told gardaí in an interview that he ate what he believed to be a part of the deceased's heart.

On Thursday, two consultant psychiatrists told the trial jury that Mr Bellante fulfilled the criteria for a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Defence counsel Sean Guerin SC made a number of admissions on Thursday morning on behalf of his client which the jury were told would make their time in the court very short.

In his opening, prosecution counsel Patrick Gageby SC told the trial the issue of insanity was a "live issue in this case".The deceased was just shy of his 40th birthday, he was a freelance journalist and worked part-time at The Iona Institute.

Mr Bellante rented a room in Castleknock from Mr O'Gorman. They were acquaintances with "common interests."

On the evening of January 11, 2014 both men were playing a game of chess. A phone call was made to 999 by the Italian man at 1.50am, saying he had killed Mr O'Gorman with a dumbbell and a knife.

Garda Patrick Traynor, who arrived on the scene, told the court he found Mr O'Gorman slumped across the carpet and his chest had a large hole in it.

The court heard there was a dumbbell and a broken part of a sharp kitchen knife beside the body and a plate or bowl in the kitchen with lung tissue in it. Also there was a frying pan with "reddish material" in it.

When Mr Bellante was asked what happened, he said they were playing chess and he had "moved the king" and Mr O'Gorman got angry and accused him of it being a "stupid and perverse move".

The court heard Mr Bellante then went to the kitchen and took a knife from a block of knives before he "put it straight into him" by stabbing him.

The court heard Mr Bellante thought he took Mr O'Gorman's heart out of his chest with his hand but it was in fact his lung.

"I was thinking of eating his heart, I washed it and ate the bigger piece and left smaller one. I didn't cook it."

Irish Independent

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