Monday 22 January 2018

Man who ripped up bank notes and smashed 40 pub windows not guilty by reason of insanity

Conor Gallagher

A man who smashed 40 windows in a pub and off licence while he was suffering from psychosis has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury took less than 15 minutes to return the verdict on Paul Murray (30) after hearing uncontested defence evidence that he was not aware or in control of what he was doing at the time.

Both the prosecution and defence agreed on the facts of the case and the prosecution did not contest Mr Murray’s claim that he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time. This meant that the jury was effectively being asked to rubber stamp a “special verdict” of not guilty through insanity under Section 5 of the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006.

The case was put back until next Thursday while a report is prepared on Mr Murray’s current mental state, as mandated by the act. He suffers from a severe form of epilepsy but is currently stable and taking the appropriate medication, the court heard.

Mr Murray of Coultry Terrace, Ballymun pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court by reason of insanity to three counts of criminal damage to The Swiss Cottage pub, the Next Door off license and a car on the Swords Road in Santry on December 30, 2012.

During the short trial, Garda Francis Chaney told prosecuting counsel Anne Rowland BL that Murray was having a pint in the pub where he was seen talking to himself and ripping bank notes into small pieces.

He went outside and threw the pieces of money in the air before returning to the pub and tearing up more notes.

Mr Murray then left the pub again. He got a wooden stick and started smashing the windows in the off-license and the pub. He broke a total of 40 windows before being tackled and restrained by the barmen and customers. It cost €8,050 to replace the windows and fix a car Mr Murray had dented.

Mr Murray was arrested but he was released to go to hospital after a doctor said that he was unfit to be interviewed.

Four months later he admitted he had caused the damage but said he couldn’t remember any of it and that he was having “some type of seizure at the time.”

Dr Stephen Monks who is based at the Central Mental Hospital told defence counsel Michael Bowman BL that Mr Murray suffers from a form of epilepsy which can lead to episodes of psychosis after a seizure.

Dr Monks cited two previous instances of psychotic behaviour by Mr Murray. He said on one occasion he put his foot through a fish tank and required 40 stitches and on another he jumped out of a hospital window.

The Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006 requires that a court must be satisfied that a mentally ill accused meets one of three criteria before they can be judged not guilty through insanity.

These criteria are that they didn’t know the nature or quality of the act, that they didn’t know it was wrong and that they were unable to refrain from doing it.

Dr Monks said that he believed Mr Murray met all three criteria on the day of the incident.

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