Sunday 8 December 2019

Man found not guilty of murdering his mother committed to mental hospital

Paul Henry was found not guilty of the murder of his mother Ann Henry by reason of insanity. Picture: Hany Marzouk
Paul Henry was found not guilty of the murder of his mother Ann Henry by reason of insanity. Picture: Hany Marzouk

Alison O'Riordan

A man who stabbed his mother to death and was found not guilty of her murder by reason of insanity, has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital.

Paul Henry (29) with an address at Ardsallagh, Athlone Road, Roscommon was charged with murdering his mother Ann Henry at Abbeystown, Ballyphesan in Roscommon town on September 17 2011.

On Monday at the Central Criminal Court Mr Henry pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Henry by reason of insanity.

At the beginning of the trial defence counsel Mr Colm Smyth SC told the jury of eight men and four women that his client admitted he killed his mother.

Ann Henry
Ann Henry

During the trial Mr Smyth called consultant psychiatrist Professor Tom Fahey to give evidence and he told the court Mr Henry suffers from a psychotic disorder which he called "delusional disorder."

The court heard in Prof Fahey's opinion Paul Henry was "unable to refrain from committing the act" and this "propelled him" to acting in the way in which he said he did.

On Tuesday prosecution counsel Ms Caroline Biggs SC called forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright to give evidence and she diagnosed Paul Henry with "paranoid schizophrenia."

Dr Wright said at the time Mr Henry did not have the capacity to form intent because of his mental disorder.

Yesterday a jury spent one hour 36 minutes deliberating before bringing in a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Today prosecution counsel called Dr Damian Mohan who is an approved medical officer at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH).

Dr Mohan told Ms Biggs he had prepared a report for the assistance of the court in relation to the accused Mr Henry.

The court heard that Dr Mohan is the accused's "treating doctor" and Mr Henry has been under his care since 2012.

"Mr Henry has been receiving treatment in the CMH since September 2011," said Dr Mohan.

The witness then confirmed he conducted an assessment yesterday with Paul Henry where he examined him.

"He suffers from a mental illness which affects his thinking, perception and emotional judgement. He continues to hold the view by some conviction that his mother wanted to kill him. Despite his past history he doesn’t think he suffers from a mental disorder," said Dr Mohan.

The court heard that the fact Paul Henry has demonstrated "little or no remorse for his actions" is further evidence of his "impaired judgement."

Dr Mohan said his patient was "very adapt" at "masking his symptoms" as he has previously done in local services.

"He has partially responded to treatment, does not believe he suffers from a mental disorder and disputes the medication that is required," said Dr Mohan.

The court heard that if Mr Henry was not cared for in hospital he would become "non compliant with medication" and his mental health would "deteriorate."

"When the treatment dose is reduced Mr Henry becomes much more challenging to manage by my nursing staff colleagues so he requires medication to reduce his risk of harm to others," said the doctor.

Having assessed Mr Henry yesterday and having the benefit of knowing him for the last five years, Dr Mohan said his patient continues to suffer from "paranoid schizophrenia."

He said with the benefit of treatment to date Mr Henry has made "modest improvement in his condition" and has progressed from the "acute phase of his illness to the rehabilitation phase."

"Because of the severity of the illness, the judgement of the person concerned is so impaired that failure to admit the person to the approved centre would lead to his deterioration," he added.

Dr Mohan also commended the support Paul Henry receives from his father.

"I can assure the family there are safeguards in place and Mr Henry's progress will be monitored every six months. There is an incentive for him to work with staff in the centre so he can be managed in a safe way," he said.

Dr Mohan then recommended to the court that Paul Henry be returned to the CMH and confirmed there was a bed available for him there today.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt then said it was a testament to the accused's father who has been "widowed in very tragic circumstances" that he continues to "extend this support" to his "unfortunate" son.

"He (Paul Henry) is to be treated as an unwell person and not a criminal person. He will be subject to a regime satisfied by statute.  He will not be forgotten about and will be subject to on going treatment," said the judge.

Mr Justice Hunt said that having heard Dr Mohan's assessment he was satisfied that Mr Henry is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

He said until Mr Henry was no longer a danger to himself and others "there is a need for inpatient care and treatment."

He then made an order committing Mr Henry to the CMH under the supervision of Dr Mohan and his staff there.

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