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Mother stabbed to death by son "was prepared to sacrifice her own happiness"

Paul Henry pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to his mother’s killing.

File photo of the Spinney in Roscommon
File photo of the Spinney in Roscommon

A ROSCOMMON MAN who stabbed his mother to death is a “very sad case” as this “was obviously a loving mother who loved her son dearly and was prepared to sacrifice her own happiness and her marriage”, a jury has heard.

Paul Henry (29) with an address at Ardsallagh, Athlone Road, Roscommon is charged with murdering his mother Ann Henry at Abbeystown, Ballyphesan in Roscommon town on 17 September 2011.

Yesterday at the Central Criminal Court Henry pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Henry by reason of insanity.

Today prosecution counsel Caroline Biggs SC called forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright to give evidence.

Dr Wright told the court that she was asked to prepare a report on behalf of the DPP and she met with the accused on three occasions; 14 March 2014, 21 March 2014 and 8 February 2016.

Paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis

The court heard Paul Henry told Dr Wright that two years prior to his mother’s death he had thought the world of her.

When Dr Wright interviewed Paul Henry’s father, he told him his late wife was “never willing to accept Paul was unwell” and no matter what he did “she was prepared to forgive him”.

The court heard the parents separation two to three years prior to Ms Henry’s death was “largely down to their different approach managing their son’s behaviour”.

Dr Wright diagnosed Paul Henry with “paranoid schizophrenia” which is characterised by “delusions and negative symptoms”.

She said his delusion was in part related to his mother and “he thought she and others were conspiring to harm him”.

Dr Wright said at the time Mr Henry did not have the capacity to form intent because of his mental disorder.

Mr Henry did not know the nature or quality of his act and misunderstood the quality of his actions. He believed his mother intended to have him killed, he believed if he did not kill his mother that he himself would be killed. He felt he had to proceed with her death.

Mental health deteriorated

In Dr Wright’s opinion she believed Paul Henry was unable to refrain from his actions and could identify no alternative form of action. In her closing speech Ms Biggs told the jury that the views of the two forensic psychiatrists are “wholly supported” by the doctors who treat Mr Henry at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH).

Counsel said Paul Henry’s mental health “deteriorated rapidly” upon his release from prison 18 months before the attack.

“In looking at the facts and the evidence produced to you, you can derive comfort from the fact, that from the examinations and all the collateral history from 2013 to 2016, Paul Henry was resolute in his views that his mother had tried to kill him,” said Biggs.

Counsel told the jury that the DPP supports the verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” which is the one supported by the evidence.

“If returned it will provide the optimum safety for society,” she said. Defence counsel Mr Colm Smyth SC told the jury that both the prosecution and defence were “singing off the same hymn sheet” with regards to this offence.

“His difficulties evolved into schizophrenia which was described by the two psychiatrists as a psychotic illness,” he said.

“A very sad case”

Smyth said this has been a “very sad case” as this “was obviously a loving mother who loved her son dearly and was prepared to sacrifice her own happiness and her marriage”.

The court heard that both doctors were “satisfied that he knew what he was doing was wrong and couldn’t refrain from doing what he did”.

“Even in the middle of the act of stabbing his mother he felt compelled to complete it as if he didn’t he felt he would be killed by his mother. Unfortunately Paul still has those delusional beliefs,” said counsel.

Smyth called it an “unusual case” as one would usually have parties in a case contending “for different versions” but in this case “we are all on the one ship”.

“I am urging upon you to come back with a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity,” he said.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt then charged the jury before it was sent out to begin deliberations.

The jury spent just under an hour deliberating before being sent home for the evening.

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About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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