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"He was stone-faced": man found not guilty of murder of Mairead Moran by reason of insanity

Shane Smyth will be detained in the Central Mental Hospital.

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Updated 21.21

A KILKENNY MAN who stabbed shop worker Mairead Moran to death at her workplace has been found not guilty of her murder by reason of insanity.

The trial heard that Shane Smyth (29) believed Mairead Moran had stolen a “vial of his blood” and had “installed hidden cameras” and put “black widow spiders” in his house.

Mr Smyth, with an address at McGuinness House, Evans Lane, Kilkenny was charged with murdering Mairead Moran (26) on 8 May 2014 at the Market Cross Shopping Centre in Kilkenny City.

Last week at the Central Criminal Court Mr Smyth pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Moran by reason of insanity.

Opening the case for the prosecution last Tuesday, Mr John O’Kelly SC called James Coffey, who was working as a security guard in the Market Cross Shopping Centre on 8 May.

The court heard a cleaner in the shopping centre called out to Mr Coffey and pointed in the direction of Mairead Moran who was standing in the doorway of Holland and Barrett “crying and looking very upset”.

Mr Coffey agreed with counsel that Ms Moran told him that Mr Smyth had accused her of “kidnapping him and stealing his blood.”

The court heard Mr Coffey told Mr Smyth he had upset the girl and he had to leave the shopping centre.

Shortly afterwards Coffey got another call on his radio.

“All I heard on the radio was Holland and Barrett, I heard the girl crying out ‘Oh my god, Oh my god, I don’t believe it,’” said Mr Coffey.

The witness agreed with Mr O’Kelly that Mairead Moran was slumped at the door of the shop and Shane Smyth was standing a couple of feet away.

The court heard it was only when Mr Coffey pushed Mr Smyth back did he see a “bloodied knife in his hand” and shouted at the accused to drop the knife.

The witness agreed with counsel that there was “a complete blank look on his face” and “he was stone faced.”

Paranoid schizophrenia

The jury had been told that the facts of the case were not disputed and last week forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright gave evidence that Mr Smyth was suffering from severe paranoid schizophrenia at the time.

She told the court she had prepared a psychiatric court report on behalf of Mr Smyth at the request of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Dr Wright noted that Mr Smyth’s maternal grandfather had suffered from schizophrenia, while an uncle also had mental health problems.

Concerning his use of intoxicants Dr Wright said Mr Smyth began drinking regularly and started to use cannabis from the age of 13.

Regarding Mr Smyth’s relationship history Dr Wright said he had begun a relationship with Mairead Moran when he was 19 years of age and she was 17 years of age.

Dr Wright diagnosed Mr Smyth with “paranoid schizophrenia” and told the court Mr Smyth did not have the capacity to form intent because of his mental disorder and did “not understand the nature and quality of his actions at the time”.

“He believed Ms Moran was part of a conspiracy and he harboured a moral justification for his actions. He was unable to refrain from acting like he did,” said Dr Wright.

A second forensic psychiatrist Dr Paul O’Connell from the Central Mental Hospital also gave evidence that the accused was suffering from schizophrenia and was “not capable of forming a specific intent”.

Today in her charge to the jury Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan said there were three possible verdicts open to them in this case but the verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” would be in accordance with the lengthy evidence they had heard in the case.

“The law requires that you must make a finding of fact in this case and a verdict other than the verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity means you would be rejecting the evidence of the two psychiatrists,” said the judge.

Unanimous

Finishing her charge Ms Justice Heneghan said the “evidence in this case all points one way”.

The jury of three men and nine women spent 55 minutes deliberating today before bringing in a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

After they had delivered their verdict, the judge thanked the twelve jurors for their time as they had been longer in court “than anticipated” and excused them from jury service for the rest of their lives.

Ms Justice Heneghan addressed the jury saying:

You have performed a critical task. It has been a difficult trial and some of the elements were extremely upsetting and disturbing. It is a difficult duty you have carried out and I thank you for the attention you have given this trial.

At the request of prosecution counsel Mr John O’Kelly SC, Ms Justice Heneghan ordered that Mr Smyth be detained in the Central Mental Hospital and put in the matter for 15 February.

Finally, the judge said that at the commencement of the case she asked for cooperation of everyone, which she said she received at all times.

“There are two families involved and I can only extend my sympathy and those of the registrar to Mairead Moran’s family. It has also been a difficult trial for members of the Smyth family and I thank that family for having behaved as to how I asked them to in court,” she said.

Originally published 16.47

More: Court hears man accused of Kilkenny woman’s murder had been ‘freaking her out’ 

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About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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