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induced psychosis Man who stabbed mother and step-father in cocaine fuelled attack jailed

Conor Dreelan (25) was entitled to a lesser sentence due to his temporary psychotic condition

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Conor Dreelan

Conor Dreelan

Conor Dreelan

A man who stabbed his mother and step-father during a cocaine induced psychotic episode has been jailed for four years at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Michael White said that Conor Dreelan (25) was entitled to a lesser sentence due to his temporary psychotic condition, which had been described in psychiatric reports submitted to the court. He said Dreelan was "in shock" when he realised the harm he had caused and that he shows no evidence of psychosis when not using drugs. The court previously heard that Dreelan had taken 2 grams of cocaine the day before the assault on his parents.

Dreelan (25), also known as Conor Dignam, of Snowdrop Walk, Darndale, had been charged with the attempted murder of his mother, Phyllis Dreelan and his stepfather, David Dignam, at Snowdrop Walk on June 13, 2020. The attempted murder charges were dropped and earlier this year Dreelan pleaded guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to his parents.

Medical reports read out to the court stated that Phyllis Dreelan had knife wounds to her neck, chest, and upper arm. She was in hospital for two weeks. David Dignam, who was unconscious on arrival at hospital, had multiple deep stab wounds to his body. He was admitted to intensive care and released from hospital on 1st July 2020

Mr Justice White said Dreelan's condition was consistent with "cocaine induced psychosis". He sentenced him to six years on each count of causing serious harm but suspended the final two years on condition that he be of good behaviour and remain under the supervision of the probation services for those two years. Both sentences are to run concurrently.

In their victim impact reports, both parents said they knew that it wasn’t really their son who had carried out the attack. They said they missed their son, whom the Central Criminal Court heard has since received a diagnosis of an acute psychotic episode secondary to drug consumption, and are waiting for him to come home.

D Gda Niall Gibbs told Michael Bowman SC, for the DPP, that Ms Dreelan and her partner were asleep in a downstairs room at about 7.20am that day. Their three children, including the accused, were also at home.

Ms Dreelan had explained that she was a full time mum and described the accused as ‘a Mammy’s boy’, who looked out for his younger siblings. Theirs was a normal, loving family, she said.

She had observed, however, a change in the defendant’s mood over the previous couple of months.

“He’d get paid on a Thursday and his money would be gone,” she said.

She said she knew that he was using it on drugs, but she just let it slide.

That night, she was awoken by a strange noise.

“I can see Conor standing over David. I could see something in his right hand. He was stabbing David. I said, please Conor, it’s your Dad,” she recalled.

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She said that her partner had woken and said the same, but that their son didn’t react.

“Then he turned to me,” she continued, describing a pain in her side.

“I looked at Conor. There was nothing there,” she said. “It was blank. It wasn’t Conor.

She said that he returned to stabbing her partner who was now standing.

“He stabs me again,” she said.

She said that her daughter arrived downstairs and began screaming at her brother.

“I’m lying on the couch,” continued Ms Dreelan. “He picks me up and says he loves me and he’s sorry. He puts me back on the couch and I’m frozen.”

Mr Dignam also described being attacked.

“I saw it was my son, Conor, who was stabbing me,” he recalled. “It was the stab in my eye that made me jump up."

He managed to escape to the house of a neighbour, who raised the alarm.

Meanwhile, the defendant made his way to his girlfriend’s house and told her mother what he had done. He said that only when his sister started screaming at him to stop did he come to realise what had happened.

He was in a distressed state when he later told gardai that there must be something wrong with him for the ‘scumbag, psychopath stuff I did’.

He said he had taken 2g of cocaine the previous day. He had difficulty explaining what had happened and described himself as being like a robot.

Patrick Gageby SC, defending with John Griffin BL, said his client had since received a diagnosis of an acute psychotic episode secondary to drug consumption.

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