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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

Saverio Bellante found not guilty of the murder of Tom O'Gorman by reason of insanity

The jury returned the verdict this afternoon after a short time deliberating.


SAVERIO BELLANTE HAS been found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of Tom O’Gorman.

Saverio Bellante (36) with an address at Beech Park Avenue, Castleknock, Dublin 15 had pleaded not guilty to murdering Thomas O’Gorman at an unknown time between 11 January 2014 and 12 January 2014 at the same address.

He had admitted to killing his landlord and eating his body parts.

The jury of seven men and five women began deliberating at 11.55am this morning and returned the not guilty by reason of insanity verdict before 3pm today.

Before returning their verdict the foreman of the jury asked the presiding judge Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan if they could express an opinion on their verdict which she said no to saying: “A jury cannot express an opinion on a verdict.”

Upon delivering the verdict the judge thanked the 12 jurors for their time in this “difficult case” and excused them from jury service for the next 15 years.

“The work juries do in these Criminal Court’s is hugely important work but difficult work and we appreciate the work you do and this was a particular difficult case,” she said.

Ms Justice Heneghan committed Mr Bellante to the Central Mental Hospital and put in the matter for 12 August 2015 at 11am when Dr Mohan would be present.

Yesterday, the jury heard that the Italian man admitted killing his landlord in Castleknock last year and told gardaí in an interview that he ate what he believed to be a part of the deceased’s heart.

Also on Thursday two consultant psychiatrists told the trial jury that Mr Bellante fulfilled the criteria for a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury were told that two days before the murder he had attended an out-patient appointment at the Dublin clinic where the anti-psychotic medication Olanzapine he had been on was stopped.

Today’s hearing

Prosecution counsel Mr Patrick Gageby SC told the trial which lasted two days that he would not be offering a concluding statement.

This morning, Mr Sean Guerin SC counsel for the accused addressed the court room on behalf of his client Mr Bellante but not on the matters of the law which he said the jury would get from the trial judge Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan.

Mr Guerin opened by saying to the jury they had heard from two consultant psychiatrists who have offered their expert opinion on these issues and they are entitled to rely on these and be guided on this.

The defence counsel told the court this offence couldn’t have had any rational justification and nothing the late Thomas O’Gorman did or said could have led to these “disturbing but also irrational events”.

Mr Guerin said the way the deceased remains were treated could only be seen through the lens of insanity, something the accused had suffered with for more than a decade.

However, in response to the appropriate medication Mr Bellante’s symptoms which he was suffering from were kept in check.

Severe psychosis

“Unfortunately at the time of the killing of Mr O’Gorman, Mr Bellante’s medication changed and it did under medical supervision which is of no blame to him,” said the barrister.

The court heard it was two to three days before these events occurred that the psychotic behaviour set in and “a very severe psychosis developed very rapidly”.

Mr Guerin said even in interview his client was unable to present his thoughts in any “coherent or logical way”.

“He was someone who was severely unwell and was rushed to the Central Mental Hospital because of that,” said the defence counsel.

The barrister said this all points toward “only one possible conclusion” which is to return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

No closing statement

Prosecution counsel Mr Patrick Gageby SC told the trial which lasted two days that he would not be offering a concluding statement.

Ms Justice Heneghan then told the jury in her charge to them to apply their common sense to determine what the facts were in this case and to draw up common sense conclusions from the evidence they have heard.

The judge said Mr Bellante pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder hence the presumption of innocence remains with him throughout the trial.

She said insanity was a defence and the onus was on the accused man to establish his insanity at the time so the burden of proof was on the defence where they were putting insanity forward.

No criminal record

“The defence only have to prove insanity on the balance of probabilities. They have asked for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity which means the accused will not have a criminal record for murder. For murder there must be criminal intent and the defence say Mr Bellante did not have the necessary mental capacity to commit this crime of murder,” she said.

Judge Heneghan had stressed if the jury bring in a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity it is an acquittal but he doesn’t get to walk out the door but goes to the Central Mental Hospital.

In the future Ms Heneghan said she will then direct what is to be done with the accused.

“You have heard from Dr Monks, the expert on behalf of the State and Dr O’Neill the expert on behalf of the defence and they both agreed with each other. You must make findings of fact in this case because in any criminal trial this is the job of the jury,” she said.

Stab wounds

The court had heard that Mr O’Gorman died a result of blunt force trauma to his head and stab wounds to his neck and chest.

The court heard there was a dumbbell and a broken part of a sharp kitchen knife beside the body and a plate or bowl in the kitchen with lung tissue in it. Also there was a frying pan with “reddish material” in it.

When Mr Bellante was asked what happened, he said they were playing
chest and he had “moved the king” and Mr O’Gorman got angry and accused him of it being a “stupid and perverse move”.

The court heard Mr Bellante then went to the kitchen and took a knife from a block of knives before he “put it straight into him” by stabbing him.

More: Man admits to killing landlord Tom O’Gorman before removing organs

Read: Former Defence Forces member guilty of manslaughter of woman who was blackmailing him


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About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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