Friday 23 February 2018

Man who beheaded mum seeks prison swap

Phyllis Dunleavy
Phyllis Dunleavy
James Dunleavy found guilty of killing his mother in Edinburgh

Ciaran Donnelly

A SON who beheaded his mum and buried her dismembered body in a shallow grave wants to swap his hospital bed for a prison cell.

A trial heard harrowing evidence that Phyllis Dunleavy (66) from Dublin may still have been alive when her killer began to hack off her legs with a knife and saw in his Edinburgh flat.

But the horror of her final moments at the hands of her deranged son James (40), who is also known as Seamus, may never be known.

Mrs Dunleavy's remains were found weeks later, buried on Edinburgh's Corstorphine Hill.

Labourer Dunleavy, who worked on Edinburgh's trams project, denied murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by burying her to try to cover up the crime.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh convicted him, by majority, of a reduced charge of culpable homicide. They also found him guilty of the attempted cover-up between April and July last year.

By that time, Dunleavy had already been sent to the State Hospital, Carstairs. After the jury verdicts, Judge Lord Jones ordered that he should stay there while psychiatrists continued to assess his condition.

Dunleavy returned to court yesterday for the judge to decide the next move, which could have been an indefinite stay in the State Hospital.

Defence counsel Gordon Jackson said: "He doesn't want to go to Carstairs. He wants a prison sentence." The lawyer said medical reports had been prepared for the court but he felt it was his duty to have an independent person look at their recommendations.

Dunleavy will remain in the State Hospital pending a further court hearing.


Mother-of-five Mrs Dunleavy had left her Dublin home in early April last year and arrived in Scotland on April 24 to visit her eldest son.

Prosecutors alleged that days later she was dead, butchered in Dunleavy's flat in Balgreen Road, Edinburgh.

Medics could not tell how she died and injuries to her head, smashed ribs and damage to small bones in her neck – often linked to strangulation – could have been sustained after her death.

It was more than a month before Mrs Dunleavy's remains were unearthed, just a few minutes walk away from her son's address.

Irish Independent

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