Murder trial hears Lixnaw man with special needs killed his mother without any lawful justification

Oct 14, 2022 17:49 By radiokerrynews
Murder trial hears Lixnaw man with special needs killed his mother without any lawful justification
Central Criminal Court
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A 29-year-old man from Lixnaw admits killing his mother without any lawful justification, a murder trial jury has heard.

Patrick Dunne from Ballingeragh, Lixnaw, has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court today, having pleaded not guilty to murdering his mother Susan Dunne between November 26 and 27 2013, both dates inclusive, at the same address.

Mr Dunne, who has autism, was found to be unfit to stand trial in 2013 because he lacked the ability to plead as he could not understand the charge.


He had been remanded for treatment to a psychiatric facility until recently.

Opening the case for the prosecution today, Dominic McGinn SC said expert psychiatrists for both the prosecution and defence are in agreement that the accused was insane "as defined by law" at the time of his mother's death.

Patrick Gageby SC, defending Mr Dunne, made a number of admissions of fact to the court today on behalf of his client. These included that the accused killed his mother Susan Dunne and had done so "without any lawful justification".


Mr McGinn said Ms Dunne's body was found in her bedroom between 11am and 11.30am on the morning of November 27.

Ms Dunne, who was already dead by the time she was found, had sustained at least five blows to her head.

Counsel told the jury that Ms Dunne's son, Patrick, was 19 years old at the time and had been diagnosed with autism at a relatively young age. The accused required additional care "on top of the usual parenting requirements", he added.


The prosecution barrister went on to tell the court that the Lixnaw and Listowel communities were used to the sight of Ms Dunne driving around in her car with her son Patrick in the back seat, including to the Post Office.

What raised concern on November 27, the lawyer said, was that Patrick arrived alone at the post office, withdrew the money himself and was seen to be driving around unaccompanied in his mother's car.

Ms Dunne was formally pronounced dead at 11.51am that morning, after a neighbour discovered her body in the Dunne house.


State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster conducted a full post mortem and confirmed that Ms Dunne had sustained six wounds to her head, five of them were a significant size and situated behind her right ear.

Dr Bolster found multiple fractures and fatal trauma to the deceased's brain underneath the wounds. "She certified that brain trauma was the cause of death and that the wounds were consistent when Ms Dunne was lying in bed in the position that she was found," he continued.

Mr McGinn said the evidence will be that a hatchet used for chopping wood was found in the kitchen. Dr Bolster found the wounds to Ms Dunne were consistent with having been inflicted by the hatchet.


Counsel also indicated to the jury that gardai found the hatchet next to the fridge in the kitchen, that the blade was clean but there was some blood-staining on the rear of it, which matched the accused's DNA profile.

A DNA profiling was also conducted on the handle of the hatchet and the major profile matched the accused's DNA, he said.

Mr McGinn said Mr Dunne did accept that he had struck his mother with a hatchet, that he had left the hatchet in the kitchen and he explained the reasoning behind that.

The court will also hear, the barrister indicated, what had happened to make Patrick strike his mother and the various events unfolding before and after the assault.

The accused was released from garda detention and then formally charged with the offence of murder in November 2013.

In summary, Mr McGinn told the jury that they will hear evidence from two psychiatrists, who both agree that the accused was insane as defined by law at the time of his mother's death.

He said it was for the jurors to determine whether "the psychiatrists determination" can be accepted and that the important evidence in the case would come from the psychiatrists.

Mr Gageby told the court it was accepted that matters had been properly investigated by the authorities and said the "sole issue" in the case was whether the accused was not guilty by reason of insanity.

The trial before Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring, and a jury of five men and seven women, is expected to last three days.


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