Man not guilty (by reason of insanity) of father's murder
A 35-year-old Mayo man has been acquitted of murdering his elderly father two years ago.
John Biggins of Ballynalty, Cross, Claremorris had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murdering Thomas Biggins (70) at that address on May 6, 2012.
The court was told that the 100-acre farmer was shot twice with his own legally held shotgun.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate him at the scene but he was later pronounced dead at Galway University Hospital at 3.35pm.
The Central Criminal Court heard Mr Biggins was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia and was on disability allowance.
The jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity after 27 minutes of deliberation following the two-day trial.
Mr Bernard Condon SC prosecuting asked the court for a order to commit Mr Biggins to the Central Mental Hospital to appear before the court again on Wednesday next. Mr Condon said that Mr Biggins’s treating psychiatrist would be in court on that date.
Mr Justice Paul Carney thanked the jury before exempting them from further service for life.
The court heard State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out a post mortem and said the cause of death was a shotgun wound to left side of the chest. Prof Cassidy said a shotgun wound to the right hand was a contributing factor.
Today, defence witness Dr Paul O’ Connell of the Central Mental Hospital said that a mental state examination showed Mr Biggins had a range of psychotic symptoms and had a mild intellectual disability.
Dr O’Connell told John Jordan SC defending it was his opinion that Mr Biggins was mentally ill at the material time and his judgement was grossly impaired.
He said that Mr Biggins was emotionally disconnected from the enormity of his actions.
Dr O’ Connell said he had a psychotic urge to shoot his father in order to go to prison.
He said it was his opinion that the Mr Biggins fulfilled two out of the three criteria to qualify under the Mental Insanity Act.
Mr Justice Carney told the court that Mr Biggins only needed to score one out of the three criteria.
Dr O'Connell agreed with Mr Jordan that Mr Biggins had paranoid persecution delusions about his father being abusive to him, which would be very hurtful to his family.
Dr O'Connell said that Mr Biggins thought that he was Elvis and thought that he had relationships with celebrity women.
On July 26, 2012 Mr Biggins told a doctor that he though he saw the devil on the day of the shooting.
Dr Stephen Monks, another consultant forensic psychiatrist from the same hospital, also gave evidence that he had schizophrenia and mild mental retardation.
He said he met the criteria to qualify under the Mental Insanity Act and fulfilled two of the three grounds.
In his opening speech Mr Condon told the jury that the burden rests on the accused person to prove they were insane at the time of the killing.
Detective Sergeant James Carroll told Mr Condon that the accused was one of five children but the eldest had passed away.
He told gardaí in an interview that he went out the yard and saw his father’s 12-gauge shotgun, which was loaded with two cartridges, against a pillar and took it.
He said his father was coming from the calving boxes when he met him by coincidence and shot him twice.
“He asked me did I shoot my geese and I pulled the trigger on him,” he told gardaí. “He was just there and I pulled the trigger…I don’t know what was going through my mind,” he added.
The accused said he went back in the house, gave the gun to his brother and phoned 999.
“I wasn’t in my right state of mind…It’s pure insane what I did,” he told gardaí. “I had thoughts of taking my life in a nice way before shooting my father,” he said. When asked how he was going to he replied that he was going to “do it with gas”.
In garda interviews the accused said his father had abused him “left right and centre when I was young”.
“I wanted to get away from home, I wanted to get to prison, that’s it.”
He said he had tried to kill himself three or four times and that you should be able to go to a clinic to die.
Det Sgt Carroll agreed with Mr Jordan that the accused had no previous convictions and was from a fine upstanding family.
Det Sgt Carroll agreed the behaviour after the event was “quite bizarre” and the accused said immediately afterwards “I just shot the aul lad…I’ll be going to jail now.”
He said the accused rang 999 and spoke to Garda Mark Kilbride telling him: “Hello garda, I’m turning myself in, I shot my father.”
The accused then drove to Ballinrobe Garda Station and handed himself in where he was co-operative throughout his detention.
Det Sgt Carroll agreed with Mr Jordan that there was confirmation that the accused had been looking up websites on how to kill yourself.
He further agreed that there was a hangman’s noose on a rope, which was found in the loft of the barn as well as two other ropes.
He also agreed that the accused had contemplated hanging himself between May 3 and May 6.
He agreed it was apparent from an early stage that they were looking at “quite bizarre behaviour” and they would be seeking a mental appraisal of the accused.