A trial judge was shocked at a DPP decision to prosecute a man for assisting a woman in attempting suicide on a night when the two people decided to take their own lives together.
The trial judge asked why the Director of Public Prosecutions had brought such a case to criminal court.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today: “I know the DPP have brought this case but I would say, someone would want to think, 'what are we doing here?'
"This is a court of crime. Does the DPP realise that both of these were psychiatric patients at the time? Both of them are under psychiatric care. They are making joint plans.”
The judge said that putting the case to the jury would be to ask them to speculate on what was going on in the mind of a man in relation to the young woman at a time when he was in the process of preparing to die by suicide himself.
"He was going into the garden to end his life. (It would mean asking the jury) to speculate on what additionally was going through his mind about the other person. His mind was in a florid state of confusion and depression."
Defence senior counsel, Elizabeth O’Connell, agreed with the judge and said the case could not be put to the jury as the prosecution case was entirely speculative. She said it was nothing other than weak at best and that the evidence did not show any crime.
The judge said the defendant was about to take a catastrophic step having written a suicide note.
“Perhaps that is understandable to anybody, except perhaps the DPP. In my view it would be entirely wrong to allow the case to go to the jury. There is no foundation on which a jury could find him guilty of a criminal offence.”
He said it would unsafe if a jury found him guilty and he had no hesitation in directing them to find the accused not guilty.
The defendant told investigating gardaí: “That night I sat down to a few cans in my apartment and basically I just had a kind of breakdown due to the fact that the fella I was meeting had just hanged himself in September. It was the second partner in five years to commit suicide. When I had the breakdown I got in touch with [name].
"When she called down we left our suicide notes. After that, I took my flag." [an Irish tri-colour flag to which he had an emotional connection]
He told gardaí that when they got into the garden area he was gone a very short time and suddenly found her in the process of dying by suicide. He said he "freaked out", assisted her to come out of the situation she was in and rang 999. There was no sign of life in her. I didn’t know what was happening and that’s when the guards came." (The woman was revived.)
The charge stated that on October 25, 2016 that the defendant aided, abetted, counselled or procured an attempt by another person to commit suicide, contrary to Section 2(2) of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act 1993.
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