Dublin woman who blinded man in frenzied scissors attack found not guilty by reason of insanity

Dublin woman who blinded man in frenzied scissors attack found not guilty by reason of insanity

A woman who left a man blind in one eye after attacking him with scissors has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

A 35-year-old woman had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court guilty to one count of intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Sean Hogan on May 28, 2013.

The victim lost the sight in one eye as a result of the attack at the Granby Centre, a Dublin city centre homeless shelter for people with mental health issues.

The jury took 21 minutes to return the verdict, having heard psychiatric evidence about the woman's mental illness at the time of the assault.

Judge Patricia Ryan adjourned the case for mention to November 1 next to allow for an assessment of the defendant to determine how she should be cared for in the future.

Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, told a jury of six men and six women that there was no dispute that the woman, who has a Dublin 7 address, carried out the assault.

Instead, the key issue would be whether she was mentally impaired at the time, he said.

The court heard that the defendant and the victim, then aged 58, were both residents in the shelter. She became jealous of Mr Hogan's friendship with another resident.

On the day of the incident, the woman began calling them names and Mr Hogan confronted her. She lunged at the victim with a pair of scissors and he felt a sharp pain in his eye.

He fell over and the woman came from behind him and began gouging his eyes with her thumbs. The attack lasted for two minutes as staff and other residents tried to stop her.

Prosecution witness Dr Brenda Wright, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, testified that the defendant suffered from severe epilepsy and frequent seizures, which at times had been life-threatening.

Dr Wright said that the woman suffered from an organic personality disorder in which a person's personality and behaviour was altered as a result of an underlying condition, in this case an ongoing epileptic condition.

She had an IQ of 68 which was in the range of a mild intellectual disability, Dr Wright said.

The court heard that the woman had a “long history of violence”. As a child and teenager, she was involved in a number of aggressive incidents, Dr Wright said.

These included assaulting a teacher at the special school she attended, throwing hot water at her younger sibling, hitting an 11-year-old boy with an iron bar, trying to choke her mother and stab her with a fork. "The neighbourhood was terrified of her," Dr Wright said.

As a teenager, the woman was described as "a lonely, vulnerable young girl unable to make links with other young people," the court heard.