Doctor tells court murder accused was 'clearly psychotic' at the time of the shooting

CourtsBy Sunday World
Gardai at the scene in 2014
Gardai at the scene in 2014

A forensic psychiatrist has told a jury that a murder accused suffering from “severe depressive episodes with psychotic symptoms” would have been unable to refrain from his actions.

James Redmond (60) with an address at Killinarden Estate, Tallaght, Dublin 24 is charged with murdering Mary Dargan and attempting to murder Karina Dargan at their home in Killinarden Estate on March 15, 2014.

Mr Redmond has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the two charges at the Central Criminal Court.

Today prosecution counsel Ms Pauline Walley SC called consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Conor O’Neill who is attached to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum to give evidence.

Dr O’Neill told the court that he was also a visiting psychiatrist to Cloverhill Prison and he met the accused on two occasions as a reviewing doctor.

The court heard that the accused’s mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 70 years of age.

“At the time she thought her husband was trying to poison her and her neighbour was a witch,” said Dr O’Neill.

Mr Redmond had worked with Dublin County Council between the ages of 27 and 35 but had no formal employment after this.

He got married at 23 years of age and has five adult children.

Dr O’Neill said the accused told him he had never seen a psychiatrist and his mood became “low” in November 2013 when he started to hear voices which “involved the deceased and her daughter.”

“His appetite had reduced and he lost two stone in weight since Christmas 2013. He said that since November 2013 he had been able to hear voices from the Dargan family through the walls separating the two houses,” said Dr O’Neill.

The doctor agreed with counsel that the accused heard chants about his wife being called a whore and his daughter being called a porn star.

In early 2013 Mr Redmond asked his wife if she could also hear the voices coming through the walls of their house but she said she could not and urged him to see a doctor.

Dr O’Neill said the accused told him he had a headache on the afternoon of March 15, 2014 and went to bed. He thought his head was going to burst when the chanting got louder and louder. He then got his gun from a locked cabinet in his house and went to the Dargan’s house.

The court heard that Mr Redmond’s daughter told Dr O’Neill that she moved back into the house as she had concerns over her father’s mental health in late 2013.

The accused’s daughter and her mother wanted him to see a GP for sometime.

Dr O’Neill said he saw Mr Redmond on March 19, 2014 and he displayed “persecutory delusional beliefs” in regards to the Dargan family.

“He believed he was being persecuted by his neighbours and found it unbearable. In my view these would be hallucinations that are not real but which a person would believe to be real. He also said he could hear two men talking about him, calling him a dirty bastard and paedophile. He said the voices could have come from an electronic
device used to transmit sounds or it was some form of magic,” he said.

Dr O’Neill testified that the accused denied having thoughts of harming the Dargan family prior to the incident.

The court heard that due to his “paranoid psychotic episodes” Mr Redmond was transferred from Cloverhill Prison to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) on March 26, 2014.

Upon admission to the CMH Mr Redmond lacked insight into his illness but was willing to accept oral medication.

Dr O’Neill said that he met with the Redmond family on April 17, 2014.

The family told him that Mr Redmond’s mood had deteriorated since the previous summer and they insisted he attend a GP in January 2014.

“They had seen him crying in the mirror and watching a blank channel on television. The family said he had not suffered from prolonged periods of depression in the past,” said Dr O’Neill.

Mr Redmond has since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and there was some evidence of dementia.

In October 2015 Dr O’Neill was instructed by the DPP to assess Mr Redmond independently in order to see if he was fit to plead and if he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

Dr O’Neill diagnosed the accused with “severe depressive episodes with psychotic symptoms.”

“His condition is a psychotic illness which meets the criteria for a mental disorder as defined in the Criminal Law Insanity Act,” he said.

Dr O’Neill said Mr Redmond was clearly psychotic at the time of the shooting but he felt he was fit to be tried.

“I form the view he was unwell for several months before the killingand he appeared to be hallucinating since November 2013. He reported himself at Tallaght garda station two months prior to the tragic events reporting concerns that comments were being made about him. He felt his neighbours were deliberately taunting him and he felt he was
being persecuted,” he said.

Dr O’Neill agreed with counsel that Mr Redmond did not know the nature and quality of his acts and would have been unable to refrain from his actions.

He also agreed that Mr Redmond should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr O’Neill agreed with defence counsel Mr Brendan Grehan SC that the accused continues to suffer from psychotic symptoms and will continue to be treated at the CMH into the future.

The court also heard that while violence in psychosis is “relatively rare” when it does happen it can happen in a “catastrophic way.”

The defence then called Dr Stephen Monks, a consultant forensic psychiatrist from the CMH, to give evidence.

Dr Monks said he met with Mr Redmond on May 1, 2015 after he was asked to prepare an independent report.

“The accused said he started hearing voices at night-time through the attic space of his house and these voices were calling him a paedophile. He said he started getting paranoid about people looking into his house,” he said.

Dr Monks said that Mr Redmond told him that despite being put on medication the chants “got worse.”

“He said he told his wife he had heard his neighbour calling him a paedophile. He also said he wanted to tell gardai he was not a paedophile in case neighbours decided to report him to gardai,” said Dr Monks.

“He said he now regrets the shooting but his head was so badly gone he couldn’t do anything else,” said Dr Monks.

The psychiatrist agreed with Mr Grehan that Mr Redmond now understands that his neighbours never spoke to him through the attic and his persecutory beliefs were unfounded.

Dr Monks told the court that Mr Redmond’s maternal grandmother had suffered from mental health problems as well as his mother.

The doctor diagnosed the accused with “psychotic depression” which is a severe mental illness.

“He was been suffering from psychotic depression for several months and was hearing voices and incessant chanting. His reasoning at the time of the shooting was severely impaired and he did not know what he was doing was wrong. It is likely he became so overwhelmed by his psychotic experiences that he could not refrain from doing what he did,” he said.

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Robert Eagar.