Castlebar murder trial continues at Central Criminal Court

Wednesday, 19th July, 2017 6:26pm

Castlebar murder trial continues at Central Criminal Court

The memorial to Jack and Tommy Blaine erected at Tucker Street in Castlebar

A FORENSIC psychiatrist for the State has told a Mayo man's murder trial that although the accused had personality disorders when he killed two elderly brothers with special needs, they did not qualify as mental disorders in law.

It follows the evidence earlier this week of a defence psychiatrist who told the Central Criminal Court that Alan Cawley had three mental disorders at the time and that they had diminished his responsibility for his actions.

If satisfied that he had a qualifying mental disorder, the jury could find him guilty of manslaughter rather than murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The 30-year-old of Four Winds, Corrinbla, Ballina, has admitted killing Thomas Blaine (69) and John (Jack) Blaine (76). However, he has pleaded not guilty to murdering them on July 10, 2013 at New Antrim Street in Castlebar.

The State previously called forensic psychiatrist Dr. Brenda Wright, who gave a different conclusion to that of the defence’s witness, Dr. Pawan Rajpal.

She told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that she studied Cawley’s medical and psychology records dating from when he was four years of age. She also interviewed the accused and his parents.

She said she agreed with Dr. Rajpal’s diagnoses of both Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. However, she disagreed with his opinion that they were mental disorders under the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006.

She said that the types of disorders allowed under the Act impaired a person’s capacity or ability to make decisions, to understand or remember information needed to make decisions, to weigh up the pros and cons of decisions or to communicate them.

She said that a personality disorder did not.

“Therefore, it’s my view it’s not a mental disorder under the Act,” she said.

Dr. Wright said that she looked for behaviour that would suggest such a difficulty in videos of the interviews he gave the gardai in the days after the killing. However, she said she found none.

She will continue her evidence tomorrow (Thursday) morning before Mr. Justice Paul Coffey and a jury of four women and eight men.

Dr. Rajpal testified that Cawley had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at the time of the offences; the court had heard that he had been diagnosed with the disorder at the age of 11.

The British doctor noted that the Cawleys had described his behaviour changing at around four to six months of age, post vaccination. They recalled lots of screaming and that he did not like physical touch.

They said he’d begun banging his head at one year and, by age two, was crying so much that he had to be sedated by a GP.

Between the ages of five and 12 years, he was setting fires and attracting frequent complaints from neighbours about cruelty to animals.

He noted from the defendant’s medical records that he had first seen a psychologist at the age of four and had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at the age of 11. He had spent six months in hospital at that time. 

He noted that Cawley had later also been diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Dr. Rajpal said he was satisfied that he was suffering from all three diagnoses at the time of the offences.

“He’s less able than people who don’t have these diagnoses to control impulses, less able to learn from past mistakes,” he explained.

He said that all were classified as mental disorders in the two main international manuals used by psychiatrists. He said that he was also satisfied that all three were mental disorders and diseases of the mind under the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006.

He said ADHD symptoms, including low impulse control and low frustration tolerance, had persisted into adulthood and played a role in the offence.

He added that all three disorders would have diminished his responsibility for his actions in more than a trivial or minimal way.

“He would have less control over his actions because of these diagnoses. It’s impulsivity that would have played a role in the incident,” he added.

“I have requested the court to consider this Act,” he said, referring to Section 6 of the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006, which allows a jury to find a person not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The trial earlier heard that blood on a ceiling and walls indicated that one brother was on his bed and the other was lying on the ground when assaulted.

Dr. Alan McGee of the serious crime team at Forensic Science Ireland testified that he visited the Blaine home on the day of the killing.

The forensic scientist told Tony McGillicuddy SC, prosecuting, that Tom Blaine’s body was lying face-up on a bedroom floor, with his legs on a heavily-bloodstained bed. As well as pools of blood in the room, there was blood on all four walls and airborne blood on the ceiling.

“The pattern of blood staining in the room indicated that he was assaulted while he was on the bed,” he testified.

He noted that Jack Blaine was found lying face-up on the ground in the back yard. There was a rusted shovel head next to his head, with a black walking stick and a heavily bloodstained wooden handle lying beside his body.

He observed airborne blood staining on a nearby bin and chair and on a wall adjacent to his head.

“The pattern of blood staining in the backyard indicates that Jack Blaine was assaulted as he lay on the ground,” he explained.

He found DNA profiles matching both brothers’ on the bloodstained end of the wooden handle. He identified a DNA profile matching Jack Blaine’s on blood on the shovel head and walking stick.

Report by Natasha Reid.

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