A judge has ordered a Listowel man who held an elderly man, his daughter and her fiancé hostage be detained at the Central Mental Hospital.
50 year old Tom Howard of Gortnaminch, Listowel is to undergo psychiatric assessment for the next two weeks. Earlier this month, a jury found Mr Howard not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of eight separate charges arising from the three hour drama at Donnybrook House, Sixmilebridge on July 2nd last.
Ennis Circuit Court heard on the day in question Mr Howard wearing a balaclava, medical gloves and armed with a double barrelled shotgun took 68 year old gardener Tadgh Corbett hostage for two and a half hours before Mr Corbett’s daughter Elaine and her fiancé Declan Finn arrived on the scene. Mr Finn sustained 10 stitches and a fractured knee during the ordeal. Mr Corbett and Mr Finn managed to overpower Mr Howard who later told Gardai he was in Sixmilebridge to either take his own life or carry out a robbery to pay off debts of €6,000.
Det Garda Roddy Burke told the court Mr Howard’s acts were very much premeditated as he had stolen the shotgun days earlier – he said that in the 24 hours prior to the incident, Mr Howard stayed in nearby fields, didn’t sleep and survived by drinking water from troughs in fields and eating a piece of fruit.
In evidence from forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, Dr Paul O’Connell said that Mr Howard’s mental illness at the time grossly impaired his judgement. The court order approved by Judge Gerald Keys found that Mr Howard is suffering from a mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 2001 and may be in need of in-patient care or treatment. Judge Keys yesterday adjourned the case to May 3rd.