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Man found not guilty of attempted murder of granny by reason of insanity

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

A schizophrenic man launched a knife attack on his then 88-year-old grandmother, who was described as the "person he loves most in the world", during a psychotic episode, the Central Criminal Court heard today

Eoghan O'Mahoney (34), of Craigford Drive, Killester was found not guilty of the attempted murder of his grandmother Catherine McGillion (91), on December 19, 2013, by reason of insanity.

The jury took about 30 minutes to reach their decision, having been told by counsel for the prosecution Pat McGrath SC that the plea of insanity is not contested.

Mr McGrath read a statement made by the elderly woman in which she described the close relationship she had with her grandson and insisted the attack was totally out of character.

She said she is proud of Eoghan, that he is the cleverest of her grandchildren and had always been good at school. She was aware that he had some mental health issues but said he had always been good and kind to her.

She said they had grown even closer when her daughter, his mother, died. They would go to mass every week and frequently traveled together to town. They lived just a few doors away from one another and on the day in question she was preparing lunch for the two of them, as was their daily routine.

When Mr O'Mahoney arrived for lunch on December 19 2013 he did not speak but took a knife out of one of her drawers and used it to play with her hair before grabbing her hand. In the struggle she fell to the ground. "He kicked me four or five times," she said. "And he cut the left side of my neck. There was blood everywhere."

The attack continued until Mr O'Mahoney's brother Conor arrived. Mr Conor O'Mahoney took the stand and told the jury that he took the knife from his brother and put him in a separate room before calling the emergency services. His grandmother, who was 88 at the time, required hospital treatment and underwent a long convalescence.

Mr O'Mahoney said the death of their mother had been a "heartbreaking blow" for his brother and that his grandmother had taken her place in his eyes from that time. 

"He spent a lot of time over there with her and he loves her to bits," he said adding that she continues to feel the same way about him. Defence counsel Sean Gillane SC said that she is "the person he loves most in the world" and Mr O'Mahoney agreed.

Summing up for the jury Mr Gillane added: "What you see here is the horror of mental illness, and you have heard and seen here that this is a family built on love and mutual respect for each other.

"It is also characterized by bravery, the bravery of Conor and of Eoghan's nan who to this day still loves him and wants him to get the treatment he needs."

When speaking to gardai, Mr O'Mahoney gave various reasons for the assault, saying at first that "she was just doing my head in" and later saying that God had spoken to him while he was in Spain some years earlier and told him to do it. When asked how long it took to plan the attack he said "a lifetime".

The jury heard details of numerous paranoid delusions that he suffered, including voices in his head, and that he believed he was the son of god. Two psychiatrists who examined him agreed that he was suffering acute psychosis on the day of the attack and for some months afterwards.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Mr O'Mahoney will return to court for further assessment on November 16.

By Eoin Reynolds