Saturday 19 January 2019

Schizophrenic son acquitted of murdering father ordered to return to mental hospital

John Biggins: acquitted of murdering his father
John Biggins: acquitted of murdering his father

Niamh O'Donoghue

A JUDGE has ordered that a 35-year-old man with schizophrenia, who was acquitted last week of murdering his father, return to the Central Mental Hospital.

John Biggins of Ballynalty, Cross, Claremorris, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murdering Thomas Biggins (70) at that address on May 6, 2012.

The Central Criminal Court heard Mr Biggins was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia and was on disability allowance.

Last Friday the jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity after 27 minutes of deliberation following the two-day trial.

The court was told that the 100-acre farmer was shot twice with his own legally held shotgun.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate him at the scene but he was later pronounced dead at Galway University Hospital.

Yesterday, consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Sally Lenihan of the Central Mental Hospital told the court she had been treating Mr Biggins since October 2012. She said he has an established diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia.

She told Mr Bernard Condon SC for the State that she examined Mr Biggins on May 31 and he was pleasant and co-operative. She said that he had made good progress since his admission to the psychiatric hospital.

She said despite his improvement there were still some ongoing concerns and he had only partially responded to treatment.

The psychiatrist said he was in need of specialist care because of his illness and recommended that he return to the Central Mental Hospital.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said he would make an order based on the recommendations of Dr Lenihan.

The trial heard State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out a post-mortem and said the cause of death was a shotgun wound to left side of the chest.

Prof Cassidy said a shotgun wound to the right hand was a contributing factor.


Defence witness Dr Paul O'Connell, of the Central Mental Hospital,told John Jordan SC, defending, it was his opinion that Mr Biggins was mentally ill at the material time and his judgment was grossly impaired.

Dr O' Connell said he had a psychotic urge to shoot his father in order to go to prison.

He said it was his opinion that Mr Biggins fulfilled two out of the three criteria to qualify under the Mental Insanity Act. Mr Justice Carney told the court that Mr Biggins only needed to score one out of the three criteria.

Dr O'Connell agreed with Mr Jordan that Mr Biggins had paranoid persecution delusions about his father being abusive to him, which would be very hurtful to his family.

Dr O'Connell said that Mr Biggins thought that he was Elvis and that he had relationships with celebrity women.

On July 26, 2012 Mr Biggins told a doctor that he thought he saw the devil on the day of the shooting.

Irish Independent

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