Psychiatric nurse jailed for stabbing three people faces retrial

Brian Quinn
Brian Quinn

A psychiatric nurse jailed for stabbing three people following a birthday party at a neighbouring house has had his conviction overturned.

Brian Quinn (47) formerly of Deer Park Avenue, Kiltipper, Tallaght, and then Balbriggan, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Stephen Keogh, Lee Harte and James Toner Senior on October 9, 2011.

Quinn had further pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Kurtis Lennon, James Toner Junior and Robert Ryan and production of a knife on the same date.

A jury convicted him of seriously assaulting Mr Harte and assaulting Mr Lennon and Mr Toner Jnr causing them harm. He was also convicted of production of a knife but acquitted of the remaining charges.

He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by Judge Carmel Stewart on March 10, 2014.

On the occasion in question, there was an 18th birthday party in the house next to Quinn's from which a number of people left at approximately 4am, according to the Court of Appeal's judgment delivered today.

It was the prosecution's case that as people were leaving the party they were verbally abused by Mr Quinn's wife and had a glass thrown at them before Lee Harte was pulled or dragged into Mr Quinn's home and stabbed.

It was Mr Quinn's case that what occurred appeared to him to be an invasion of his home and attack on his wife by a violent abusive crowd of drunken people and that any force used by him was lawful.

Mr Quinn successfully appealed his conviction on the trial judge's charge to the jury in respect of the two-part test to apply in assessing whether he was acting in self defence.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said it was essential for the jury to be told that both limbs of the test were subjective. However, in determining the honesty of Quinn's belief regard could be paid to the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for the belief.

That did not change the overall subjective test to an objective one, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

The critical question remained 'what were the circumstances as the accused honestly believed them to be', the judgment stated.

Mr Justice Sheehan said further directions by the trial judge emphasised the objective element to such an extent the court was bound to conclude that the jury may have been confused as to the precise test to be applied.

The Court of Appeal further held that the trial judge ought to have directed the jury to take particular care in assessing the reliability of prosecution witnesses who conceded that they may have been liable to prosecution for other offences.

In those circumstances, Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, allowed the appeal and directed a retrial.

Mr Quinn was remanded on bail to appeal before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on January 28 next.