Man who killed father with bayonet committed to Central Mental Hospital

Man Who Killed Father With Bayonet Committed To Central Mental Hospital
Gareth Sheeran, of Carriglea View in Firhouse, Dublin, was found not guilty by reason of insanity last week of murdering his father. Photo: Collins Court
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Eoin Reynolds

A 32-year-old man who was suffering from schizophrenia when he killed his father with a World War II bayonet on Father's Day has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital.

Gareth Sheeran, of Carriglea View in Firhouse, Dublin, was found not guilty by reason of insanity last week of murdering his father Harry Sheeran (65) on Father's Day June 20th at Carriglea View.


The jury returned its verdict after just 42 minutes having heard from two psychiatrists who agreed that Mr Sheeran qualified for the special verdict due to his mental condition.

He did not know that what he was doing was wrong when he killed his father, the psychiatrists said.

At the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Tony Hunt received a report drawn up by a psychiatrist that prosecution counsel James Dwyer SC said indicates Mr Sheeran "will almost certainly relapse" if he is not given the care that he needs.

He has a limited understanding of his illness and doctors have created a course of continued treatment for Mr Sheeran, counsel said.



Mr Justice Hunt ordered the committal and continued treatment of Mr Sheeran at the Central Mental Hospital in Portrane. Mr Sheeran will be subject to ongoing reviews by healthcare professionals.

The judge said he would also like to "express again my sympathies for everyone concerned, to the Sheeran family who have a terrible burden to bear.

This is not the first case to arise from this terrible disease, and it won't be the last. I express my condolences and wish them well for the future, whatever that may hold."

Following the jury verdict last week, Mr Justice Hunt described the case as a “tragedy for all concerned” and said his thoughts went out to the Sheeran family and particularly the accused’s mother who had lost her husband. “This can’t be an easy process for them,” he said.


The trial had heard that when the gardaí arrived at the house on the night of the killing, they found Harry Sheeran lying on the ground in a large pool of blood around his waist and feet. They also saw blood on the defendant’s legs and t-shirt.

Detective Garda Austin Larkin gave evidence that when the gardaí asked what had happened, the defendant said: “I was upset. I attacked him.” The detective said that the defendant told gardaí that he stabbed his father with a “WWII bayonet-type of thing”.

Det Gda Larkin said a man renting a room in the house from the deceased said that some time before the stabbing, he was in his room wearing headphones, but he thought he heard someone beating Gareth Sheeran up in the next room. He said he heard the defendant say, “Get off, get off, leave me alone”, but there was no one else in the room with Mr Sheeran.

Det Gda Larkin also said that a next-door neighbour said she heard things being thrown, “like furniture rumbling”, but she did not hear anyone saying anything. She said it sounded like “someone fell out of the attic”, and she said she then heard “a wail of anguish”.


The court also heard evidence that pathologist Dr Heidi Okkers found stab wounds on Harry Sheeran's chest, two wounds on his back, two on his left arm, and one to the right leg. Dr Okkers said that Harry Sheeran experienced multiple sharp force injuries and one stab wound caused injuries to his heart.

The pathologist said that there was significant blood loss from the leg wound, and death occurred through stab wounds to the chest and leg.

In his charge to the jury, Mr Justice Hunt said that “the evidence points all in one direction in this case”. He said expert evidence had been heard from two very experienced psychiatrists who both agreed Mr Sheeran was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killing and that he fulfilled the criteria that entitled him to the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.


Dr Patrick McLaughlin, a consultant forensic psychiatrist based in the Central Mental Hospital, previously told the court that Mr Sheeran suffers from a major mental illness, namely schizophrenia.


He said that at the time of the killing, Mr Sheeran’s mental illness had been untreated for three years, that he was more than likely suffering a relapse of schizophrenia and the symptoms were present at the time of the killing.

He said Mr Sheeran had a long history of believing he was being targeted and he had the unusual belief that killing his father would help him in some way.

Dr McLaughlin said the defendant told him about an event in 2018 in the Phoenix Park, when he said he was approached by two men.

Dr McLaughlin said it was very difficult to follow the narrative being put forward by Mr Sheeran, but it appeared that the defendant believed he received information about his father, with someone saying to him: “Kill your father, we’ll help you.” Dr McLaughlin said that the defendant was quite incoherent in this account, but he was not being “wilfully incoherent”.

Dr McLaughlin said the defendant was quite incoherent in this account, but he was not being “wilfully incoherent”.

He said at the time the defendant stabbed his father, he was suffering from a mental disorder to such an extent that he did not know the nature of the act, did not know it was wrong, and could not refrain from doing it.

He confirmed that Mr Sheeran satisfied all three possible requirements for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.


Dr Ronan Mullaney, a consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital called by the defence, gave evidence that the defendant suffers from schizophrenia and was most likely suffering from acute psychosis at the time of the killing.

He said this psychosis would have led to a significant impairment of Mr Sheeran’s mental functioning and his control at the time would have been circumscribed by his belief that he was at imminent risk of death.

He said it was his opinion that, following the evolution of a complicated psychosis, Mr Sheeran believed the victim was planning to have him killed on the night of the offence. The doctor said if the accused believed that was the case, then it was probable he did not know what he was doing was wrong.

Dr Mullaney said in his expert opinion, Mr Sheeran satisfied all three of the possible criteria for a defence of not guilty by reason of insanity.

In his closing remarks to the jury, prosecuting counsel Mr Dwyer said the evidence “speaks for itself”. “It's very clear evidence and it is evidence that is in no way in contention between the prosecution and the defence,” he said.

In her closing address, Ms Eilis Brennan SC, for the defence, said the two psychiatrists in the case each agreed that Gareth Sheeran fulfilled any one of the three criteria for a special verdict.

“Any one would be sufficient, but both psychiatrists are of the view that he fulfils the criteria for all three,” she said. “I would ask you to bring in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.”

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