Court hears garda was suffering from mental disorder at time of harassment

Donal Maguire
Donal Maguire

Two forensic psychiatrists have told a jury that a garda was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of harassing a married female sergeant over four years ago.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Garda Donal Maguire had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, which at his age was considered early onset dementia.

The symptoms include erotomania, a delusion in which a person believes that another person, typically of a higher social status, is in love with them.

The disorder also meant that Gda Maguire would be increasingly inappropriate in his actions, have a loss of empathy, was unable to understand the impact of his behaviour, has a lack of judgement, an inability to inhibit his own actions and a lack of interest in his personal hygiene.

Gda Maguire (40) of Rock Road., Bundoran, Co. Donegal has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of harassing the woman at a location in Dublin on dates between February 18 and March 11, 2012 and between August 1, 2012 and February 4, 2013

The court heard that both Gda Maguire's mother and his wife noticed a change in his behaviour from 2010, shortly after the birth of their first child, when he started making bizarre statements and laughing inappropriately.

In his first referral to have it investigated, a psychiatrist noted that Gda Maguire had disorganised thinking and unusual speech.

Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, told the court jury in opening the case that the fact Gda Maguire harassed the woman was not disputed but rather the jurors had to determine if he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

Both Doctor Brenda Wright, an expert witness for the State and Doctor Conor O'Neill, an expert witness for the defence, met with Gda Maguire at various stages over the last few years.

Having considered the book of evidence, various psychologist and medical tests and after speaking to his family they concluded that he had frontotemporal dementia from approximately 2010.

Both psychiatrists also said that they were satisfied that at the time of the offence Gda Maguire didn't appreciate what he was doing was wrong and he was unable to refrain from committing the act.

They both also said that he lacked the ability to form intent, as set out under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, at the time of the offence because of his mental disorder.

Both witnesses drew the jury's attention to the fact that Gda Maguire continued to harass the woman despite being told by her that it was unwanted and unwelcome and being directly warned by his superiors that there would be real consequences should he continue the behaviour.

Dr O'Neill said the fact that Gda Maguire persisted in “a very obvious way” and in a manner that would lead to him being easily detected was consistent with his diagnosis.

He said Gda Maguire was currently being treated in the Central Mental Hospital and there were no immediate plans to discharge him as he was suffering from a significant illness

Ronan Kennedy BL, defending, told the jury in closing the case that he was in agreement with the prosecution and thanked Ms Small for her assistance during the trial.

He said it was a sad and tragic case in which people's personal lives had to be discussed in an open forum and that one could not help but have sympathy for Gda Maguire.

Mr Kennedy said his client was a man who had a promising career as a garda, “following in the footsteps of his father until the onset of a mental illness that manifested in a real and significant way at the time of the offence”.

Both Ms Small and Mr Kennedy urged the jury to return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity having considered the evidence in the case.

The jury of three women and nine men, are expected to retire shortly having been addressed by Judge Elma Sheahan.