Sunday 18 February 2018

Man stabbed retired psychiatrist mother to death 'after she advised him not to travel to Australia' - court hears

Fionn Braidwood, who is accused of the murder of his mother Jane Braidwood (inset)
Fionn Braidwood, who is accused of the murder of his mother Jane Braidwood (inset)

Alison O’Riordan

A jury has heard that a man stabbed his retired psychiatrist mother to death with a kitchen knife before punching his sister, who witnessed the attack.

Fionn Braidwood (32) with an address at Clarinda Park East, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin is charged with murdering Jane Braidwood (65) on January 20, 2015 at the same address.

Today at the Central Criminal Court Mr Braidwood pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Braidwood.

Mr Braidwood also pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Ceili Braidwood and Anthony Maguire at the same address and on the same date.

Opening the case for the prosecution today, Mr Alex Owens SC told the jury that there is a reason why this case will only last a day and a half.

“You will be finding that a lot of the facts in this case are not really contested. The central issue you will be asked to consider is whether you should bring in a special verdict against Mr Braidwood. That verdict in this case is a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity,” he said.

The jury were told that they will hear from two consultant psychiatrists.

“This case is somewhat different from ordinary cases and the obligation is on the defence to actually prove that Mr Braidwood was insane at the time in which the index offences were committed,” he said.

The court heard that Mr Patrick Gageby SC, for Mr Braidwood, would be making admissions on behalf of his client.

Mr Owens told the court  that it would be hearing evidence of what happened on the day in question and detailed psychiatric evidence in relation to Mr Braidwood from before January 2015.

The court heard that Mr Braidwood was born in March 1984 and grew up in Dun Laoghaire in Co Dublin.

His father died when he was nine years old and both his parents were psychiatrists.

“His mother Jane Braidwood is the person he killed on January 20, 2015, “ he said.

The jury were told they would hear from various witnesses that the accused killed his mother, including evidence from his sister Ceili, who will give evidence by video link.

“You will be hearing from Anthony Maguire who came upon the aftermath of this incident and was assaulted by Fionn Braidwood,” he said.

Mr Owens told the jury that the issue they have to consider is Mr Braidwood’s state of mind on that particular day and “was he insane in the legal sense.”

The court heard that the majority of the evidence was not contested.

Mr Gageby then made admissions on behalf of his client which included that Mr Braidwood admitted causing his mother’s death by stabbing her on January 20, 2015.

“He also admits assaulting Ceili Braidwood and Anthony Maguire and causing them harm,” he said.

The court then heard evidence by video link from Ms Ceili Braidwood.

On January 20, 2015 Ms Braidwood was living with her mother Jane Braidwood in Dun Laoghaire.

The accused was living there “on and off since Christmas” and her dad had died some years previously, the court heard.

Ms Braidwood agreed with Mr Owens that both her parents had been practising psychiatrists and her mother had recently retired. 

The accused had mental problems over a number of years but was back living in the family home in Dun Laoghaire prior to January 2015.

The court heard Ceili Braidwood also had a sister living in Wicklow and a half-sister living in England.

Mr Braidwood went off his medication in November 2014 and had been on medication for bipolar disorder, manic depression and schizophrenia, the court heard.

Ms Braidwood agreed with counsel that when her brother went off his medication his conduct would deteriorate.

In the couple of weeks leading up to January 2015, Mr Braidwood spent a lot of time in the house and was sleeping all day.

He was also starving himself and made a decision not to eat.

Ms Braidwood agreed with counsel that her brother decided he really had to lose weight and so was starving himself.

His mother, Jane Braidwood, was trying to look after him but was having difficulty convincing him to drink water, the court heard.

The accused was very tense and would spend long periods sitting in the kitchen and not talking. He would sometimes go upstairs to let off steam.

The court heard Ms Braidwood found this particularly difficult to cope with.

Mr Braidwood was under the care of a particular institution called Cluain Mhuire who were giving him psychiatric assistance but he wasn’t taking their assistance at this time.

Ms Braidwood agreed with counsel that her brother began to experience “fairly severe psychiatric symptoms” in his early twenties which went on for quite a number of years.

On January 20, 2015 Ms Braidwood was at home with her mother and her brother.

At about 4.30pm, Mr Braidwood made “an appearance” as he had been in bed previously in his bedroom which was on the top floor of the house.

The court heard he stayed in the hallway and did not come into the kitchen to interact. His mother Jane and her friend were in the kitchen.

Jane Braidwood’s friend then left the house.

Ms Braidwood told the court she was “working from home” that day and she then heard her brother ask her mother some questions.

The witness agreed with counsel that her brother was tense and worked up at the time.

Ms Braidwood agreed that her brother wanted his mother to facilitate him going to Australia.

“He wanted her to ask our aunts in Australia to help him and let him stay as they lived over there. He didn’t need a VISA as we have double citizenship,” she said.

The court heard that Jane Braidwood didn’t think her son was well enough to take the trip.

The deceased then tried to persuade her son that it was a bad idea to go to Australia and he was in no condition to do it.

The witness told the court that she was sitting at the bay window in the kitchen when she saw her mother between the window and table looking out onto the road.

There was discussion about the accused’s medication, the court heard.

Then Mr Braidwood went silent.

 “This was the point he lost control and became quite angry,” she said

The court heard Mr Braidwood then strode “purposely” towards the knife drawer beside the oven.

Ms Braidwood told the court she felt scared as she always felt that there was a danger living with her brother.

“The idea is always going to be at the back of your head when living with someone like that but you hope it wouldn’t happen,” she said.

The court heard that Mr Braidwood had never been violent towards her or her mother before and it was “always towards the house or objects.”

Ms Braidwood said she heard her mother screaming something at her son as he took a long and sharp knife from the drawer but it happened very quickly.

The witness said she then observed her brother struggling with her mother as her mother tried to run away.

Ms Braidwood then observed her brother stabbing her mother on a number of occasions.

The witness agreed with counsel that the accused changed the grip of the knife at that stage and did an “overall knife swing” at their mother.

Ms Braidwood has no memory of the accused saying anything to her mother.

She recalled her brother “jabbing” her mother with the knife before she tried to separate them apart from each other.

The witness said her brother then let go of the knife and punched her in the right side of her head on a number of occasions before knocking her onto the couch.

Her mother then moved towards the kitchen door and she heard her say: “Call an ambulance.”

The knife was in her mother's back and Fionn Braidwood looked like he was going towards the knife drawer again, she said.

Ms Braidwood then locked herself in the bathroom and dialled the emergency services.

She heard the accused make wailing sounds.

Ms Braidwood then came out and checked on her mother in the kitchen but she was in the same place and not moving.

Mr Braidwood was still standing at the knife drawer in the kitchen.

Ms Braidwood then got to the front door of the house and started shouting for help.

She observed Anthony Maguire across the road and asked him for assistance. Mr Maguire rang the emergency services on his mobile phone.

Ms Braidwood then asked her brother to stay at the front door of the house as she did not want him around her mother in the kitchen with the knives.

The accused then got angry with Mr Maguire and started to punch him in the head.

Ms Braidwood said her mother was still lying in the kitchen with the knife in her back and she tried to attend to her.

The ambulance services then arrived.

The following day Ms Braidwood went to her local GP as she was suffering from the after effects of multiple blows to her head and had soft tissue swelling and tenderness around her left eye.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart.

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