Saturday 21 September 2019

Mentally ill man 'visited psychiatric unit' before stabbing

Simon Burke and Margaret O’Brien
Simon Burke and Margaret O’Brien

Eoin Reynolds

A man with paranoid schizophrenia went to a psychiatric unit but did not get to see anyone hours before he stabbed a stranger in the head with a knife, a court has heard.

The accused, Gerard Dowling, told gardaí that on the morning of the assault, he went to the Department of Psychiatry (DOP) in St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny city because he was feeling paranoid and hearing voices.

When he went to the DOP, he said he didn't get to talk to anyone. "They seemed busy," he added.

Mr Dowling (40), of Freshford Road, Kilkenny, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the attempted murder of Simon Burke (60) at Market Cross Shopping Centre in Kilkenny on July 13, 2016.

He also pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to assaulting Mr Burke, causing him harm and to producing a knife during the same incident.

Garda Paul Coleman told the Central Criminal Court he arrested Mr Dowling following the stabbing and interviewed him later that day at Kilkenny Garda Station.

Mr Dowling told gardaí that after leaving St Luke's, he "took it out on a man" in the city centre, explaining that he attacked a man using a knife.

He said he didn't know Mr Burke and that Mr Burke had done nothing to him. He told gardaí that he had stopped taking his medication the previous January and sometimes heard voices in his head.

Mr Burke told the jury that he and his partner Margaret O'Brien had gone to Kilkenny that day to walk their dog.

After the couple had lunch, they walked towards Market Cross Shopping Centre, but they noticed Mr Dowling following them.

As they entered the shopping centre, Mr Dowling got "quite close", so Mr Burke turned to him and asked "Are you alright, or can I help you?"

"He took the knife straight out and launched straight into it," Mr Burke told prosecuting counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley SC. "He lashed a blow in to my shoulder and thereafter, he rained down blows on my head."

He said it felt like a hammer or a rock was hitting him.

Ms O'Brien told Mr Vaughan Buckley that she thought the attacker wanted to kill her partner.

When gardaí asked Mr Dowling if he was trying to kill Mr Burke, he replied: "It depends who that man is and if I go to kill him. I don't have the answers."

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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