Wednesday 21 August 2019

'Someone so dangerous living just doors down is unacceptable' - parents of defenceless man (20) beaten to death

Richard McLaughlin found not guilt by reason of insanity to murder

Jimmy Loughlin (inset) was found dead at a house in Sligo
Jimmy Loughlin (inset) was found dead at a house in Sligo

Alison O'Riordan and Eoin Reynolds

A 32-year-old man who beat his neighbour to death with a crowbar after breaking into his Sligo home has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital having been found not guilty of his murder by reason of insanity.

Richard McLaughlin, with an address at The Laurels, Woodtown Lodge, Sligo was last week found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of Jimmy 'James' Loughlin (20) at Connolly Street in Sligo on February 24, 2018.

The court heard that Mr McLaughlin broke down the door of Mr Loughlin's home at 1.18pm and beat him to death with a crowbar while suffering from delusions brought on by paranoid schizophrenia. Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said the deceased died from traumatic head injuries sustained during an assault.

The parents of the deceased told the Central Criminal Court last week that it was "unacceptable" that someone so dangerous and known to mental health services was living just a few doors from their "defenceless" son. They said their son Jimmy had never had any contact with Mr McLaughlin before he "broke through Jimmy's front door and attacked him violently with a crow bar."

Spokesperson John O’Keeffe with Michael Loughlin, whose son Jimmy was killed. Picture: Collins
Spokesperson John O’Keeffe with Michael Loughlin, whose son Jimmy was killed. Picture: Collins

In a statement read to the court on their behalf they said: "To discover that someone so dangerous was living just a few doors down the road and known to mental health services in Sligo is totally unacceptable."

It emerged during the trial that a psychiatrist previously had concerns that the man responsible for the killing was at risk of murdering someone due to his delusional beliefs.

Prosecution counsel Fiona Murphy SC today called Dr Sally Linehan, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), to report on Mr McLaughlin's condition.

Dr Linehan said that she had been responsible for Mr McLaughlin's care at the CMH since August 7, 2018 and had prepared a report in order to advise the court on whether he was suffering from a mental disorder and in need of inpatient treatment in a designated centre.

The witness said she assessed Mr McLaughlin on July 11 this year for the purposes of preparing a report and the defendant had consented to the assessment.

Dr Linehan said Mr McLaughlin was first admitted to the CMH on June 22, 2018 and had presented with clear evidence of a psychiatric illness and suffered with delusions at the time.

“He continued his medication following his admission but it did not have the adequate response so he commenced on Olanzapine,” explained Dr Linehan.

Dr Linehan said the defendant has been compliant with his individual treatment plan and has begun to develop an insight into his mental illness.

The witness said she assessed Mr McLaughlin on July 11 and did not find evidence of a mood disorder and he had denied felling depressed. “He continues to express delusional beliefs concerning cloning but denied experiencing hallucinations,” she outlined.

He suffers from schizophrenia and is in need of inpatient care and treatment in a designated centre, said Dr Linehan, adding that he is in the early stages of rehabilitation. His condition will be reviewed by the Mental Health Review Board on a six-month basis, she remarked.

Dr Linehan recommended to the court that the defendant be committed to the CMH and she confirmed that there was a bed available for him there today and staff were present in court to escort him to Dundrum.

The witness agreed with Ms Murphy that it is envisaged that Mr McLaughlin’s detention in the CMH will be lengthy.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart noted that she had heard the evidence from two consultant psychiatrists last week and from Dr Linehan today and said the court was in "no doubt" that Mr McLaughlin is suffering from a mental disorder.

Following this, Ms Justice Stewart made an order committing the defendant to the CMH for inpatient care. The judge also reiterated her condolences to the Loughlin family and Mrs McLaughlin saying: “Clearly all parties are extremely distressed by these matters.”

Two consultant psychiatrists gave evidence during the trial that Mr McLaughlin was suffering from schizophrenia in February 2018 and they agreed that his mental illness meant he did not know that what he was doing was wrong and he was unable to prevent himself from killing Mr Loughlin. In summary, they agreed that he met the requirement for the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

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