A 63-year-old man who was suffering a psychotic episode due to schizo-affective disorder when he killed his mother has been found not guilty of her murder by reason of insanity by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.
Before the jury began considering their verdict Brendan Murray's barrister Padraig Dwyer SC said his client had a good and close relationship with his mother Neasa Murray (88) and is sorry for what he did.
Counsel said that although the defence was making the case that Mr Murray was not legally responsible, he added: "any son who took his mother's life in these circumstances could only be sorry about it."
Counsel said Ms Murray cared for her son and "showed her love for him in many ways. She brought him into the world, and it's a cruel twist of fate that by his hand she departed this life."
Following the jury verdict Ms Justice Eileen Creedon committed Mr Murray to the Central Mental Hospital until Wednesday when the court will hear from a psychiatrist about Mr Murray's ongoing treatment.
The body of Ms Murray, a grandmother who lived at Kincora Drive, was found at about 8pm at nearby Kincora Court in Clontarf, Dublin 3 on August 23rd, 2020.
Brendan Murray pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to her murder.
Mr Dwyer told the jury that the evidence in the trial was "pointing in one direction" and should persuade them that Mr Murray was undergoing a psychotic episode and was legally insane at the time.
He reminded the jury that forensic consultant psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright had told them that Mr Murray's mental disorder meant that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong when he killed his mother.
Prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor told the jury that there was no dispute that Mr Murray had schizo-affective disorder and was not in a position to understand that what he was doing was wrong.
She reminded the jury that Dr Wright had told them that Mr Murray believed he was being directed by God or the Holy Spirit.
She said that the killing was "brutal and violent" and that the deceased was a "fit woman in fine health, capable and able and living a happy life". She loved her children and grandchildren and her loss is "devastating for her family and her community". But counsel told the jury that they must decide the appropriate verdict in accordance with the evidence.
She said that every criminal act is made up of the physical and mental aspects. In a case where the accused was insane they "lack the capacity to form intent and therefore the prosecution is not in a position to establish that they intended to commit that crime".
Counsel reminded the jury that Dr Wright had told them she was satisfied, having interviewed the accused and examined all relevant material, that the accused was suffering from schizo-affective disorder and did not appreciate that killing his mother was wrong.
Ms Lawlor also asked the jury to return a verdict in accordance with the evidence.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury that the facts in the case are not in dispute. She suggested that the jury first consider the question of whether the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Murray unlawfully killed his mother. If they are so satisfied, she said they could then consider insanity. When a person pleads not guilty by reason of insanity under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, the burden of proof shifts to the defence, she said.
But the standard of proof for the defence is on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt so, she said, the jury must ask themselves "what probably happened?"
She said there were three verdicts available - guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.
A murder verdict, the judge said, "would be contrary to the medical evidence before you". Ms Justice Creedon reminded the jury that Dr Wright had said that the accused meets the criteria for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The jury took less than 30 minutes to return their verdict.