A 25-year-old man sentenced to life in prison for murdering his mother at their Mayo home while he was high on drugs must wait to hear the outcome of an appeal against his conviction.
Celyn Eadon stabbed 46-year-old Nóirín Kelly 19 times on March 9, 2011 and she died at the scene. After the case, her family said that "drugs ruin lives".
Eadon of Derrycrieve, Islandeady, Castlebar had admitted his mother’s manslaughter but had pleaded not guilty to her murder.
The eight-day trial at the Central Criminal Court in early 2014 heard that Eadon had started using drugs at a very young age, beginning with solvent sniffing at the age of 10.
By the time of his mother’s death, he was unemployed and taking amphetamines (speed), methamphetamines and cannabis, along with prescription medication.
His mother had taken drugs from his bedroom and burnt them on the evening before she died.
Although he did not know who had taken them, his brother said he was "absolutely schizo" about it and the State argued that their disappearance might have been a trigger for the attack.
Various witnesses told the trial that the accused was hallucinating in the days before killing his mother, seeing aliens, fire ants, demons and black smoke. He had also started a number of fires, both inside and outside their house.
Eadon argued during his trial that his prolonged drug abuse had caused brain damage and that such a mental disorder meant he had diminished responsibility for the killing.
He further argued that he was so intoxicated by drugs at the time he killed his mother that he was unable to form the statutory intent. He asked for a verdict of manslaughter in both cases.
However, a jury of seven men and four women rejected this and found him guilty of murder by unanimous verdict after two hours and 22 minutes deliberating.
Mr Justice Paul Carney thanked the jurors, noting that such cases were very distressing, before imposing the mandatory life sentence on Eadon on February 5, 2014.
Eadon moved to appeal his conviction today in the three-judge Court of Appeal where judgment was reserved.
His barrister, Patrick Gageby SC, submitted that the trial judge didn't deal at all or properly with the issue of intoxication.
The trial judge had told the jury that voluntary intoxication and the taking of drugs, in the words of the former Chief Justice, does not afford a defence to criminal responsibility.
However, Mr Gageby said the trial judge's reference to the Chief Justice was a quote from a sentencing case and he asked how that could have wandered into a trial where the issue was murder/manslaughter.
He said it was a “peculiar thing” for the trial judge to have said. The court heard that intoxication can have a bearing on specific intent thereby reducing murder to manslaughter.
Following requisitions, the trial judge said intoxication was “part of the mix” but there was no elaboration or contextualisation of it.
Mr Gageby said the trial judge effectively cut the legs off the defence of intoxication and the jury were left in a position where they were ignorant on the law.
Mr Justice John Edwards remarked during counsel's submissions that if the jury were under the impression they weren't entitled to take intoxication into account, the possibility of an injustice could arise.
Mr Justice Alan Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice Edwards and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said the court would reserve its judgment.