Saturday 23 February 2019

Lawyers for double murderer asked to write to coroner regarding appeal as inquest into deaths being held up

Alan Cawley and in inset Tom and Jack Blaine. Photo: Keith Heneghan
Alan Cawley and in inset Tom and Jack Blaine. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Ruaidhrí Giblin

Lawyers for a man given life for the murder of two elderly brothers with special needs have been asked to outline the status of his appeal to the Coroner for Mayo, as an inquest into their deaths is being held up.

Alan Cawley (31) of Four Winds, Corrinbla, Ballina, Co Mayo had admitted killing Thomas Blaine (69) and John (Jack) Blaine (76) at New Antrim Street in Castlebar on 10th July 2013, but denied it was murder.

The Central Criminal Court heard that Cawley had bludgeoned them with a shovel and one of their walking sticks. He argued that he had three mental disorders that had diminished his responsibility and was therefore entitled to a manslaughter verdict.

However, he was unanimously found guilty by a jury after an hour and 42 minutes of deliberations and given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Coffey on July 25, 2017.

Tom Blaine had schizophrenia and his brother had dementia, a tremor and a severe hunch in his back, having been involved in a serious accident on a building site years earlier.

Both brothers also had speech impediments. They were under the care of the HSE, and a home help called to them three times a day.

Cawley was released from Castlerea prison four days before the killings and was provided with B&B accommodation in Castlebar. He bought a bottle of wine around 5pm on July 9th and was seen drinking three pints of Guinness in pubs later that evening

He had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other disorders as a child. He had also been diagnosed with two personality disorders as an adult, was often on heavy medication, had developed a dependence on alcohol and prescription drugs and was in and out of both hospital and prison.

Cawley has lodged an appeal against his conviction which is progressing through the Court of Appeal but legal submissions are awaited. Transcripts were provided to the parties in October 2017.

During case management procedures on Friday, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham asked Cawley’s lawyers to communicate the status of the appeal to the Coroner for Mayo.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the coroner felt he couldn’t proceed with the inquest into the deaths of the two brothers until Cawley’s appeal had concluded. This was a cause of concern to the deceased’s family, Mr Justice Birmingham said, and he asked Cawley’s lawyers to communicate their instructions to the coroner.

Cawley was not in court for the procedural matter.

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