Monday 20 November 2017

Jury accepts insanity plea from son who killed mother

Siobhan Stapleton from Kilfane in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.
Siobhan Stapleton from Kilfane in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.

Natasha Reid

A SCHIZOPHRENIC man has been found not guilty of murdering his mother, by reason of insanity.

Siobhan Stapleton (51) died from blunt force trauma to the head after being beaten with the handle of a garden implement.

Niall Stapleton (32), of Glebe Lodge, Kilfane, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, denied murder at that address on May 25, 2012.

The college graduate admitted causing his mother's death, but a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that he believed she had been replaced by an impostor when he killed her.

Forensic psychiatrists for both the prosecution and defence were in agreement that Mr Stapleton met the requirement for the special verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

It took the jury two hours to reach the majority verdict.

The trial heard from the clinical director of the Central Mental Hospital, where Mr Stapleton has been an inpatient since shortly after his mother's death.

Professor Henry Kennedy had studied his medical records and interviewed the accused on behalf of the prosecution.

Prof Kennedy was satisfied that at the moment the accused was striking his mother, he believed he was striking a "doppelganger".

The trial heard that Mr Stapleton was behaving erratically at a family barbecue the evening before her death, believing his sister's boyfriend was spiking his beer with LSD.

He didn't sleep for long that night and was paranoid again the following morning.

At about 1.20pm, he saw the silhouette of his mother in the garage and he attacked her.

The trial heard that he first denied attacking his mother, telling family members and gardai that he had seen a man leave the property through a hedge.


Mr Stapleton, her eldest child, was arrested after her funeral. He eventually admitted attacking his mother.

Michael Delaney, prosecuting, told then jury that they had to decide if Mr Stapleton was suffering from a mental disorder when he killed her.

Mr Stapleton's father, Peter, and his sisters were in court for the trial. The court heard they support their son and brother and visit him often in hospital.

Mr Justice Garret Sheehan committed Mr Stapleton to the Central Mental Hospital for preparation of a report.

The case is due back before the judge this morning.

Irish Independent

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