Psychiatrist says accused did not have mental disorder but was intoxicated when he killed pensioners

A forensic psychiatrist for the State has told a Mayo man’s murder trial that he was voluntarily intoxicated, leading him to act in ‘an extremely impulsive and violent way’, when he killed two elderly brothers with special needs. She said he did not have a mental disorder in law, reports Natasha Reid.

It follows the evidence of a defence psychiatrist, who told the Central Criminal Court that Alan Cawley had three mental disorders at the time, which had diminished his responsibility for his actions and would give the jury the option of finding him guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.

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

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright began giving evidence for the State yesterday.

She told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that she agreed with the defence psychiatrist’s diagnoses of both Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder in Mr Cawley. However, she disagreed with his opinion that they were mental disorders under the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006.

The defence’s psychiatrist had also testified that Mr 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.

Dr Wright said that if ADHD was sufficiently severe to impair a person’s functioning, then it might be considered a mental disorder under the Act. However, she said she found no evidence of ADHD in Mr Cawley in adulthood.

“It’s my view that Mr Cawley did not have a mental disorder at the time of the alleged indexed offences,” she concluded.

She said, however, that he had been in a state of intoxication and that this was voluntary.

“He was also aware of his propensity to violence when intoxicated, with a long history of acting violently in the context of drug and alcohol misuse,” she added. “It’s my view that at the time, Mr Cawley’s state of intoxication led him to act in an extremely impulsive and violent way, which led to the deaths of Thomas and John (Jack) Blaine.”

Under cross examination by Caroline Biggs SC, defending, she agreed that Mr Cawley had significant difficulties with anger, rage and tantrums before he ever took a drop of alcohol. She agreed that he had been seen by a psychologist at two years of age, when his main issues were fighting and tantrums.

She had seen the report of the psychologist, who had seen him when he was four years of age, when the issues of swearing and cross dressing had also appeared. She was aware that his tantrums had turned violent by the age of five.

She agreed that there was no doubt that there had been enormous suffering by his family as a consequence of his difficulties.

She agreed that a treating psychiatrist had stated that he had ADHD in adulthood.

“Even at a young age, his problems went way beyond ADHD,” said Dr Wright. “It doesn’t explain violent temper tantrums, rages, violence at home. They were accounted for at that time by conduct disorder.”

She agreed that intoxication was the only thing specifically excluded in the legal definition of mental disorder.

However, she repeated her view that a personality disorder was not a mental disorder under the Act because it didn’t impair capacity.

Ms Biggs put it to her that there was no reference in the Act to the need to impair capacity.

“In my view it’s a question of capacity,” she replied.

She was asked about the three diagnoses the defence psychiatrist had given Mr Cawley.

“They’re all clinically mental disorders as described in the manuals, not in the legal sense,” she replied.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey had told the jury of four women and eight men that both sides will give closing speeches tomorrow.


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