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Court hears man stabbed woman over 100 times before knifing nurse in the face

Court hears man stabbed woman over 100 times before knifing nurse in the face

A resident at a psychiatric hospital died after she was stabbed more than 100 times, a trial at the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Paul Cuddihy (38), a former resident of St Otteran's in Waterford City, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder of Maria O'Brien (55) at a residential unit in St Otteran's on September 5, 2014.

Mr Cuddihy is also charged with causing serious harm to nurse Breda Fennelly and charges of assault causing harm to nurses Mary Grant and Terry Hayes, and fellow resident at the hospital Mary Nugent.

At the Central Criminal Court yesterday he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges.

Opening the case for the prosecution John O'Kelly SC said Ms O'Brien suffered over 100 stab wounds to the body and that Mr Cuddihy "beat her about the head".

The fatal wound, he said, was to the jugular vein and the trauma to the head was a secondary cause of death.

He said Mary Nugent also suffered multiple stab wounds but "fortunately none of them hit an internal organ.

She was probably a very lucky person because although she had a number of stab wounds, she survived."

Breda Fennelly and Mary Grant, he said, were the first nurses on the scene while Terry Hayes arrived later and got into a struggle with Mr Cuddihy.

Mr O'Kelly told the jury they will hear psychiatric evidence relating to Mr Cuddihy.

He said that the accused man lived at a self-catering home for psychiatric patients on the grounds of St Otteran's.

He lived there with Mary Nugent, Sinead Barron, Maria O'Brien and two other people.

Ms Barron was the first eye witness called and she told Mr O'Kelly that she was in her upstairs bedroom watching Xpose on television, so she knows it was close to 6pm.

She heard Mary Nugent screaming but ignored it at first, as she said this was a common occurrence.

She then heard her shout "Paul, Paul, Paul" and became concerned that he might have given her a "clatter or a dig".

She called the hospital office to alert them and then called gardai.

When she went downstairs she saw Maria O'Brien "slumped" with blood all over her and the walls and immediately thought she was dead.

"You know when someone is gone," she said.

She saw Mr Cuddihy at the front door and ran past him and outside. He didn't try to stop her.

Breda Fennelly then told the court that she responded to the call from Ms Barron and went to investigate with her colleague Mary Grant.

When she opened the kitchen door leading into the residential unit she saw Mr Cuddihy standing over Mary Nugent with a knife in his hand. "There was blood all over the knife," she said. She told her colleague to raise the alarm, using an electronic alarm the nurses carry.

She said she tried talking to Mr Cuddihy to get him to calm down and to give Ms Nugent a chance to escape. He changed his focus to the two nurses, calling Ms Fennelly a "bibe" and lashing out with the knife.

She picked up a chair to defend herself but Mr Cuddihy stabbed her in the face.

She said she backed out and soon afterwards Terry Hayes arrived.

Mr Hayes and Ms Grant went back into the house to get Mary Nugent out.

Once she was safely out they made their way up to the main hospital and locked the doors to prevent Mr Cuddihy getting in.

He followed them but gardai arrived a short time later.

Ms Fennelly told Colman Cody SC, defending, that Mr Cuddihy's eyes were "huge and they were fixed on us".

She agreed that he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia some years earlier.

It was Ms Barron who first alerted the nurses to the fact that Ms O'Brien was inside the house covered in blood.

Mr O'Kelly told the jury that when a person claims they are not guilty by reason of insanity, they must prove that the accused person had a mental illness at the time of the killing.

He said they must also show that they did not understand what they were doing or that they were unable to prevent themselves from doing what they did.

The trial continues tomorrow before Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men.