Doctor tells court man has 'low risk' of reoffending

A psychiatric expert has told the Central Criminal Court that a man who assaulted his wife poses an “extremely low risk” of re-offending, if he is not jailed.

Dr Darina Sloan, a consultant psychiatrist at St Otterans hospital in Waterford, said that 48-year-old Fintan Murphy has an ongoing psychiatric illness, and was severely depressed at the time of the incident.

She said Mr Murphy has a very low IQ and difficulty with processing information and problem-solving ability. At the time of the offence, Dr Sloane said he was not taking his medication, and was trying to cope with marital problems as his wife was pyschotic, meaning she was hallucinating and hearing voices.

Dr Sloan said his wife suffers from a long-term psychiatric illness. Mr Murphy was also unemployed and financially embarrassed at the time of the assault, she said.

“This all compounded with the un-premeditated attack on his wife” Dr Sloan said. She told the court there had been no instances of violent behaviour prior to the assault.

Mr Murphy, who has an address at Waterford Regional Hospital, pleaded guilty in May of this year to assaulting Margaret Murphy on October 19, 2008.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to cause her serious harm on the same date at Ardmore Park, Ballybeg in Wateford.

Dr Sloan told the court that Mr Murphy has been receiving ongoing medical treatment since then. She said he is now “medication compliant” and understands that it is necessary for him to continue with his medication.

She said he has been attending a course to help him with his with self-esteem and social skills for the past year, and has been progressing well.

Dr Sloan said he is currently a patient at Waterford Regional Hospital as he attempted to take his life in July 2009, and in March of this year he was hospitalised again after an attempted overdose.

But she said he will be returning to St Otterans where she envisages he may have to stay for up to two years, before moving on to housing the hospital provides in the community.

Dr Sloan said he is a “shy individual, who was great problems coping with situations that provoke anxiety” and that he has shown “absolutely no signs” of belligerence or violent behaviour.

But she said he has learned to ask for assistance and to talk about the emotional impact of events in his life. She said that the risk of re-offence is extremely low and that the biggest risk he poses is self-harm.

When asked if he had any contact with his wife, Dr Sloan replied that there are frequent phone calls and hospital visits.

She said he also leaves the facility every day to attend his course, and visits his family every weekend.

Mr Justice Paul Carney adjourned sentencing in the case until July 26.

Mr Murphy, who was present in the court for the brief hearing, was remanded on continuing bail.

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