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manslaughter plea Man who killed his father must be assessed by psych experts, court told

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David Fortune

David Fortune

David Fortune

A Dublin man who killed his father should be assessed by a psychologist and a psychiatrist before he is sentenced, the Central Criminal Court heard today.

David Fortune (33), of Rutland Grove in Crumlin went on trial at the Central Criminal Court last year charged with murdering his father Gerry Fortune (62) on August 19, 2018. On the fifth day of the trial, Fortune was re-arraigned following legal discussions between the parties.

When charged again with his father’s murder, Fortune replied: “Not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter”.

Counsel for the prosecution, Seán Gillane SC, told the trial judge Ms Justice Eileen Creedon that the plea was acceptable to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Today Ms Justice Creedon adjourned a sentence hearing, saying she wants to allow time for assessments by a psychiatrist and a forensic psychologist. She said the reports were suggested by probation services and considered necessary before a sentence hearing can take place. The sentence hearing will take place on Monday, April 26.

During the brief hearing Tony McGillicuddy SC asked the court to provide him with a transcript of the five days of the trial and access to the digital audio recording of the trial. Mr McGillicuddy said he is acting for the Garda Commissioner and he said the transcripts are required as part of an inquiry being carried out by gardai.

During the trial, the jury heard that Gerry Fortune, who worked in St James’ Hospital, was stabbed in the neck in his family home with a knife by his son after watching the All-Ireland hurling final in his living room.

Sean Gillane SC for the DPP said the accused and a number of other people were in a granny flat at the rear of the house for “a day of drinking and drug taking” on the day of the fatal assault.

Counsel said some of those attending had described the accused as behaving in a paranoid way before he went into the house following a row with his half-brother Gerard Lambe. Mr Lambe denied that he put black-market diazepam tablets in the accused’s mouth earlier on the day but said he did give the tablets to the accused.

Witness Eddie Byrne told the trial that he saw Gerard Lambe physically putting a big, blue tablet into the accused man's mouth on the day before the stabbing.

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Victim Gerard Fortune

Victim Gerard Fortune

Victim Gerard Fortune

He told Michael Bowman SC, defending, that Mr Lambe had given it to him to calm him down. "He said: 'Here, try that,'" testified Mr Byrne, while gesturing with his outstretched hand.

"He didn't ask for it," he said of the accused, who he thought didn't know what he was taking.

"Are you saying that Gerard physically put it in his mouth?" asked Mr Bowman.

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"Yeah," replied the witness.

Fortune’s half-sister, Laura Lambe, gave evidence that the accused had been hallucinating just before the stabbing after consuming a number of tablets.

“On and off, David was getting paranoid and he was arguing,” she recalled.

Ms Lambe said her father had called the accused into the house for dinner and to try and calm him down.

She told the court she heard her father scream at Gerard to get out of the room before David hit him.

Ms Lambe broke down in tears as she recounted how the accused was shouting at her father: “Da, I’m going to die” and that her father replied: “You’re not going to die, son. Nobody is going to die today.”

She claimed her half-brother was “blank” and his eyes “were black” at the time that he swung at his father with a knife before stabbing him in the neck.

The victim was rushed to hospital by ambulance but was pronounced dead a short time later.

The court heard that after the stabbing, Fortune jumped through the front window before hijacking a car from a woman on Rutland Grove and driving to Blanchardstown Hospital where he ran though the hospital building in a “frightened” state wearing only one shoe.

Fortune was arrested by gardai who were alerted after he had been given Valium by staff in the hospital’s emergency department.

Several hospital staff gave evidence that Fortune claimed his father or family had been trying to stab him.

The accused’s sister, Anne-Marie O’Leary, said Fortune had contacted her that evening and said: “Da stabbed me”. He had also asked her to call the gardai before hanging up.

The court heard from several witnesses that the accused enjoyed a very good relationship with his father.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, said a post-mortem exam showed the deceased had suffered an 8cm stab wound above the collarbone on the left side of his neck which had cut through his carotid artery and jugular vein.

Dr Bolster attributed the cause of death as haemorrhage and shock due to a stab wound to the neck.

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