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Man(21) gets life in jail for murder of father


Seamus Fitzgerald

Seamus Fitzgerald

Seamus Fitzgerald

A young man has been jailed for life for murdering his father at their home two years ago, after his mother had gone to bed.

Seamus Fitzgerald (21) was convicted of the murder of James Fitzgerald (56) in Lisgar, Baileborough, Co Cavan on January 8, 2006. The jury's verdict was unanimous.

The prosecution said he killed his father to steal money to buy a car.

The Central Criminal Court heard that Seamus was a "loving child" but his attitude "changed completely" around the time of his Junior Cert, when he was 15.

His sister noticed this change "from growing up, loving and caring, involved with friends and drama groups" to being "very withdrawn" and "quite the opposite".

Seamus started sniffing glue and aerosols aged 11, and then began to smoke cannabis. He became prone to mood swings and aggressive behaviour.

Psychiatrists told the court that he suffered from Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD), resulting in "callous unconcern for the feelings of others and a disregard for social norms".

On the night of the murder, he was at home watching TV. He drank four cans of beer. His father and mother were in the kitchen, also watching television, after returning from their grocery store in Baileborough with around €4,000 in takings. Mrs Fitzgerald went to bed just after midnight.

The court heard that Seamus wanted to buy a car and had asked his sister for money. She told him she didn't have that kind of money, and he said he might ask his father.

Seamus told gardai he got it into his head to kill his father while watching the film 'Goodfellas'. Mr Fitzgerald Snr was asleep in the kitchen, upright in his chair. Seamus cut the flex from the telephone and attempted to strangle him with it -- but Mr Fitzgerald Snr fell to the floor and the flex snapped. Seamus knelt over him and pressed his two thumbs against his Adam's Apple.

He then dragged his father along a hallway toward his bedroom, and tried to take the body out the bedroom window. Unsuccessful, he dragged the him back into the hallway, got a knife and stabbed his father four times. He then got a hammer and attacked his father's wedding-ring finger.


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Seamus's brother discovered his father's body, with the knife embedded in his chest. The ring had not been removed from his bloodied and broken finger.

Seamus took money and a mobile-phone from the corpse, left home with his passport and got a lift to Navan -- where he met a group outside Supermacs, drank Bacardi and took cocaine.

When they left, he lit a fire behind the cinema. The next morning, Seamus called the gardai in Baileborough and told them that he killed his father.

During interviews, Seamus told Gda Peter O'Sullivan that he "always had it in his head growing up to kill someone". The jury was told it had to decide whether he was suffering from a mental disorder which substantially diminished his responsibility for the killing.

Prosecuting counsel told Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins the family wanted the young killer to "receive treatment . . . because they're concerned that he's quite dangerous".

The court heard previously that Mrs Fitzgerald wrote to Minister of Health Mary Harney asking for help with Seamus, two years before her husband was killed. She was told to ask the Health Board.

"The same people we were at before. We got no help from the Health Board," she said.

Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins told Seamus that he was imprisoning him for life and that he would "recommend wholeheartedly that any appropriate treatment would be made available".

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