Wednesday 21 February 2018

Man who said ‘bad spirits’ caused him to assault priest gets suspended sentence

Declan Brennan

A MAN who said ‘bad spirits’ caused him to assault a priest has been given a suspended sentence.

Liam Farrell (56) attacked the priest inside his church with a chalice before going on to try to gouge out the eyes of a sacristan.

The court heard he was suffering from a temporary psychiatric illness brought on by a drug used to treat Hepatitis C.

He later told gardai that after taking the drug, named Interferon, he began experiencing manic depressive episodes and had made two suicide attempts.

Defence counsel Niall Nolan BL told the court that the expert view was that Interferon was a trigger for Farrell’s condition.

Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted Farrell was suffering from a psychiatric illness at the time but warned him he will go to prison if he continues to misbehave.

The judge imposed a three year sentence suspended in full on strict conditions.

Farrell of Conquer Hill Rd., Clontarf, Dublin pleaded guilty to three counts of assault causing harm and one count of criminal damage at St Gabriel’s Church, St Gabriel’s Road, Dollymount, Dublin on June 26, 2011.

Garda Trevor Madden told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the first man Farrell attacked was a Romanian national who was sitting with his wife and child outside the church at around 9.30am.

This man, Constantine Rostas, told gardai later that Farrell jumped on him and put his finger in his eye and tried to dislodge his eye.

Mr Rostas managed to push Farrell off but was left with a blood clot on his eye.

Farrell then went into church and took a ciborium – an ornate cup used to hold wafers for Mass - and lunged at the head of Fr Patrick McManus, striking him with it.

He chased the priest around the church before the priest managed to escape. Farrell then smashed glass in a church door.

He then attacked Michael Dillon, an elderly man working as a sacristan. He held Mr Dillon in a headlock and tried to gouge his eyes out.

Gda Madden told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Dillon’s eyes were badly damaged.

Mr Nolan said that after receiving treatment at St Vincent’s psychiatric hospital his client had gone to Fr McManus to express his deep shame and remorse and later wrote a letter of apology to Mr Dillon.

Counsel said Farrell had contracted liver disease in September 2010 and began taking Interferon to treat it.

The court heard that this brought on a psychiatric illness and Farrell began offering himself to God and burning his own flesh.

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News