Tuesday 10 December 2019

Man accused of Mairead Moran murder should not be found guilty by reason of insanity, trial told

Mairead Moran and, inset, Shane Smyth
Mairead Moran and, inset, Shane Smyth
Mairead Moran
Shane Smyth
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

THE jury in the Shane Smyth murder trial should find him not guilty by reason of insanity so he can receive proper treatment and for the “protection of society,” a lawyer for the defence has said.

Colman Cody SC told the jury this was the correct verdict so “a shocking tragedy like this may be prevented into the future.”

Shane Smyth
Shane Smyth

Mr Cody delivered his closing speech at the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of Mr Smyth (29), who is accused murdering shop worker Mairead Moran (26) in a shopping centre in Kilkenny.

He is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan was delivering her charge to the jury this afternoon before they begin deliberations on a verdict.

Mr Smyth stabbed Ms Moran with a dagger after dragging her out of the store where she worked at Market Cross Shopping Centre, Kilkenny, on May 8, 2014.

The accused, with an address at McGuinness House, Evans Lane, Kilkenny had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and believed Ms Moran was part of a conspiracy against him.

“Undoubtedly in this case, you have heard a lot of harrowing and distressing evidence that has caused great suffering for two families in Kilkenny for very different reasons,” Mr Cody said in his closing speech.

He said that words like “crazy, schizo, mad as a brush” were terms that the jury might have used in their own lives in a”jovial context and banter.”

“But they have a really specific meaning and no more so than in this case,” he said.

He said they referred to conditions that “in a small minority of cases can lead to life-altering, devastating consequences, not just for the person suffering from such a condition, but also for innocent third parties.”

He said the jury might have asked themselves “how could this have happened?”

“It is inexplicable that a young, vibrant girl with her whole life ahead of her had that life ended so abruptly and violently in a short space of time on the eighth of May, 2014,” Mr Cody said.

He said the jury might also ask how someone who carried out a physical act of stabbing might not be held responsible in law for that act.

“There is the physical act of doing something but it is also necessary to establish the mental element... and that remains and is the major issue in this case,” he continued.

He said that it was a “shocking tragedy” they were dealing with which had caused “unimaginable grief” to the Moran family.

He said if anything positive could be taken from the case it was that our understanding of schizophrenia might be advanced by the evidence that had been heard.

He said it may have been that the jury had “skepticism” about psychiatry and mental illness in the early ages of the trial or may have thought mental illness might be something that was “was easy to fabricate.”

However, he said the psychiatric opinion in the case was not “psycho-babble” but based on hard evidence.

He said the jury had a succession of independent eyewitness accounts as to how Mr Smyth appeared and what he said in the run up to the incident.

These accounts were entirely supportive of what Mr Smyth himself discussed; “this deep-seated and firmly held view and belief that Mairead Moran was trying to steal his blood.”

“Mairead Moran did not persecute, threaten or conspire against Mr Smyth, but Mr Smyth believed she did and she was doing these things, that was the product of deep-rooted delusions as a consequence of an enduring mental disorder going back many years,” Mr Cody said.

“To Mr Smyth it is very real and that had devastating consequences.”

He told the jury it would be natural and understandable to have the utmost sympathy for the Moran family.

He said the jury had to approach the case in a “clinical, dispassionate and rigorous manner” and that the evidence pointed in one direction.

“It is my submission that if you are acting according to your oath then there is only one verdict open to you,” he said.

He said the by returning the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, the jury “are not in any way disparaging or belittling the memory of Mairead Moran.”

“Not only is it the correct verdict on the evidence but the correct verdict in ensuring that Mr Smyth is properly treated and for the protection of society in general so a shocking tragedy like this may be prevented into the future,” Mr Cody said.

He said any suggestion that the suggestion that the accused had suffered a drug-induced psychosis had been “firmly rejected.”

He said there was evidence that Mr Smyth was still harbouring those delusions after two years at the Central Mental Hospital.

“Mr Smyth’s illness endures in a very, very deep and significant way, such that he is going to require ongoing treatment.”

“Uniquely in this case, all the evidence points in one direction,” he added.

Earlier, John O’Kelly SC, for the prosecution said the case was unusual because of the volume of evidence that the jury had.

He told the jury that the reality of the case was that they had a choice between the verdict of guilty of murder or not guilty by reason of insanity.

He said it was an unusual and tragic case in terms of the circumstances in which Ms Moran lost her life.

He said the number of eyewitnesses to what happened was unusual and though what happened was “dreadful”, this evidence was an advantage to the jury.

He said there had been a tremendous amount of important medical evidence. He said the conclusions and opinions of forensic psychiatrists Dr Paul O’Connell, for the defence and Dr Breda Wright, for the prosecution, were very clear.

Both concluded that the accused was “incapable of forming the necessary intention to murder,” Mr O'Kelly said.

“You are the judges and you will act on the evidence in this very difficult and tragic case,” he added.

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