Monday 18 February 2019

Teen stab murder accused treated for obsessive disorder

Finn Colclough.
Finn Colclough.

Abigail Rieley

A teenager accused of the fatal stabbing of another teenager outside his south Dublin house suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a court heard yesterday.

Finn Colclough (18), with an address at Waterloo Road, Dublin 4, denies the murder of student Sean Nolan at Waterloo Road in the early hours of May 26, 2007.

Speaking from Australia via a video link, Dr Paul O'Connell told defence counsel, Patrick Gageby, that Mr Colclough had been diagnosed around the age of 10 with the condition which was characterised by obsessive behaviour patterns.

He had been diagnosed some years earlier with speech and language difficulties, principally dyslexia, the Central Criminal Court heard.

Dr O'Connell is a consultant psychiatrist with the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum who also works as a forensic psychologist for the Midlands and Portlaoise Prisons.

He told Mr Gageby that Mr Colclough had been receiving treatment from the Lucena Centre in Dublin, which specialises in the treatment of psychiatric conditions in children and young people.

He said that Mr Colclough had started going to the centre in May 2004 for treatment of the OCD, dyslexia and separation anxiety. He had previously been treated at Crumlin Childrens' Hospital. The centre had arranged a treatment regime involving three sessions a week. Mr Colclough had also been prescribed Prozac and the anti-psychotic drug Risperidone. Dr O'Connell told Mr Gageby that Mr Colclough had been on 40mg of Prozac each day, which would have been a heavy dose for an adult. However, he had been taken off all medication and treatment around six months before the incident in question after his doctors considered he had made considerable improvement.

Medication

He said Mr Colclough told him that he felt his thinking had been clearer once he stopped taking the medication. Mr Colclough told Dr O'Connell that during his time in treatment he had trouble sleeping, which he put down to anxiety. He was also extremely anxious about dirt and infection and would wash cutlery repeatedly, even when it was clean. When he got home from school he would take a bath for two to three hours and would do the same on the evenings he went straight to the Lucena Centre.

"After arriving home from school he would spray the floor with Dettol to remove every contaminant. He would use up to five cans at a time," Dr O'Connell said. He added that Mr Colclough would become very upset if the Dettol ran out.

Dr O'Connell said that at one stage in his treatment, Mr Colclough's doctors became worried about unusual word usage and explored the possibility he was developing a psychotic condition but this was ruled out. Dr O'Connell agreed with Mary Ellen Ring, prosecuting, in cross examination that two to three per cent of the population suffer from OCD and many learned to live perfectly normal lives with the condition.

Mr Justice Paul Carney warned the jury that Mr O'Connell's evidence had been introduced for one reason and one reason only: to explain the accused's background and baggage. He told them that they may have to decide on the sense of Mr Colclough's actions, bearing in mind this background and baggage.

State pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy told the court that Mr Nolan had two stab wounds to his chest. Dr Cassidy said that the wound on the right-hand side, however, had been fatal. It had sliced through the fifth rib, puncturing his right lung and piercing his heart to a depth of 17cm. She said that five separate kitchen knives she had been shown from 71 Waterloo Road, could have caused the wound.

Dr Cassidy agreed with Mr Gageby that the deceased would have had to have his left arm raised to receive the wound on that side. The trial continues.

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