Wednesday 17 January 2018

Man claims he was 'insane' at time he assaulted six gardai with knives, court told

Fiona Ferguson

A 20 year old man who brandished knives towards two passers-by and six gardai during a late night pursuit will call evidence to say he was insane at the time, a court has heard.

Paul Clarke, of St Cronans Avenue, Swords, North County Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting two civilians and six gardai in Swords on June 22, 2012.

He has also pleaded not guilty to possession of a knife, producing two large kitchen knives, breach of the peace and intoxication in a public place on the same occasion.

Defence counsel, Mícheál P O'Higgins SC, told the jury that he can confirm that the person brandishing the knife was Mr Clarke.

Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, in his opening speech, told the jury that Mr Clarke is taking the position that the facts are correct but that he was suffering from a mental illness at the time such that he is entitled to a defence of insanity.

Counsel said the prosecution are not actively contesting what the doctor giving evidence for the defence will say.

He told the jury their role will be to decide what the state of Mr Clarke’s mind was at the time. He said that insanity was a full defence to all these offences.

Mr Naidoo said that if the jury decide Mr Clarke was, on the balance of probabilities, legally insane at the time of the offences they will return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

In outlining the facts of the case to the jury Mr Naidoo said that on the night in question two brothers, Neil and Paul Hoare, and a friend of theirs were walking home along the Rathbeale Road at about 12.30 to 12.45am.

He said the brothers and their friend met a man wearing a grey hoodie who walked past the trio.

They heard the man say something like “someone is going to get killed tonight”. The men turned and saw the man walk towards them and produce a large knife from inside his hoodie.

The men ran away and the accused ran towards them brandishing the knife in a threatening way.

Gardai were alerted and the first group of gardai to arrive found Mr Clarke in the Castle Shopping Centre car park.

Mr Naidoo said Mr Clarke was extremely agitated, his eyes were open wide and appeared to be dilated. He also appeared to have blood smeared on his face.

As Garda Amanda King went to get out of the patrol car, Mr Clarke pulled up his top, took out a knife and tried to stab her through the car window.

Mr Naidoo said she avoided being stabbed and Mr Clarke did not stab anyone during the incident.

Mr Clarke lunged towards other gardai who got out of the car and was pepper sprayed after being told to stop. This had no apparent effect on him.

Mr Clarke ran across the road into the park in the grounds of Swords Castle. More gardai arrived and they brought the cars into the park to use the car lights. They saw Mr Clarke with two knives in his hands and there was a pursuit in the park.

He was pepper sprayed more then once with no effect and threatened the gardai.

Mr Clarke was persuaded to put down the knives which he did by throwing them in the air.

Mr Naidoo told the jury all crimes have two elements - the physical act and a state of mind. He said both must be present for an offence to take place.

He said insanity was governed by the Criminal Law Insanity Act which says that if the jurors are satisfied that the accused had a mental disorder at the relevant time such that he did not know the nature of what he was doing, did not know it was wrong or was unable to stop himself from doing it, they can return a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Mr Naidoo read into evidence the statements of Neil and Paul Hoare.

Neil Hoare said in his statement that he and his brother Paul had left The Slaughtered Lamb pub in Swords that night with their friend and were walking up Rathbeale Road away from the village when a male in a grey hoodie with his hands in his pockets walked between himself and Paul.

He said the man made the comment “someone is going to get killed tonight.” He said they stopped and turned to look at the man who was 10 to 15 feet away. He said the man said something unclear and walked towards them in a threatening way.

He said the man produced a knife and their immediate reaction was to run away. He said they stopped running after a few seconds and looked back. He took out his phone and the man ran towards them again.

He said when the male was no longer chasing them he rang 999.

Paul Hoare said in his statement that as the man passed him and his brother he saw the man had blood on his face. He did not know the man.

The trial continues before Judge Sarah Berkeley and a jury of three women and nine men.

Irish Independent

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