Sunday 22 September 2019

Man (33) who stabbed pregnant sister searched internet for 'murder suicide' before attack - court hears

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A mentally ill man who stabbed his pregnant sister four times in the back had carried out internet searches for killings and “murder suicide” in the months before the attack, a court has heard.

An analysis of Daniel O’Connell’s computer showed some of the searches, for “jugular vein,” had been carried out just three days before he set upon his sister with a knife.

He also searched media coverage of a case in which a man was acquitted of killing his mother by reason of insanity.

The computer analysis evidence was being heard by the jury today in the trial of Mr O’Connell (33), who denies attempted murder.

The accused, from Rosemount, Newpark, Co Kilkenny, is pleading not guilty to the attempted murder of his sister Olivia O’Connell (42) at Scholarstown Park, Scholarstown Road, Knocklyon in Dublin on April 25, 2016.

The Central Criminal Court has heard after he stabbed his sister he told gardai he had wanted to kill her because she was “carrying a Dublin baby.”

The court has heard Mr O’Connell had an “unnatural, almost pathological dislike” of Dublin and people from Dublin.

The facts of the case are admitted by the defence, but the jury will be asked to consider among its verdict options one of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Garda Niall Russell, in the witness box for a second day today, confirmed to Michael Bowman CS, prosecuting, that the accused’s computer was retrieved from a repair shop.

An analysis showed the accused had connected to sites and carried out searches with reference to murder. There were nine separate searches between January 9 and March 26, 2016, in relation to murder cases that had been reported in the media.

On February 29, 2016 there were four separate searches focusing on a case in which a son had killed his mother, with a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. This came up under a search for murder and associated sites.

There were 14 instances of news websites which had covered the case. There were 17 confirmed searches for “murder suicide” between January 9 and April 13, 2016. Again, a number of Irish news sites were searched.

Searches about Aspergers Syndrome were carried out in November 2014 and 2016.

There were 12 searches of news sites between January 9, 2016 and April 7, 2016 in relation to general killings.

On April 22, 2016, three days before the attack, there were four searches in relation to “jugular vein” and “wrist”, “all searches associated with the defendant,” the court heard.

Mr O’Connell was released and charged in July 2016 with attempted murder.

In cross-examination, Garda Russell agreed with Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, that the accused had made admissions at the scene.

He confirmed that although he was sure an assault had taken place, he did not arrest Mr O’Connell for assault.

Instead, he was arrested under the Mental Health Act. Mr Heneghan asked the garda if he had believed the accused was suffering from a mental disorder at that stage.

“The scenario was so unusual that that was the course of action I decided on,” he replied.

Mr O’Connell was taken to St Luke’s Hospital, in Kilkenny where he was admitted to a psychiatric ward and stayed there for three weeks before he was interviewed.

The prosecution’s case was closed and evidence from consultant psychiatrists was being heard this afternoon.

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