Jury acquits man of murdering his parents by reason of insanity

Jury acquits man of murdering his parents by reason of insanity

A paranoid schizophrenic who killed his parents with an axe has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Julian Cuddihy, 43, was charged with murdering his parents Kathleen (aged 73), and James (aged 77), at their family home in Churchtown, Carndonagh, Co Donegal on October 22, 2014.

Following the verdict Julian's brother James Jnr, speaking on behalf of the family, said that the case was a tragedy "for all our family, in particular our beloved parents, Jimmy and Kathleen, but also for our brother Julian".

He said that the family tried to get professional help for Julian but decisive actions were not taken that would have prevented the tragedy.

"We hope that nothing like this will ever happen to another family," he added. "We would urge families with similar concerns about the mental well-being of a family member to seek timely assistance and intervention."

The trial of Julian Cuddihy lasted three days and heard from three witnesses. Consultant forensic psychiatrists Dr Damian Mohan and Dr Fiona Toal told the jury that in their opinions Mr Cuddihy's mental illness meant that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong and he could not stop himself.

In his closing speech today counsel for the prosecution Denis Vaughan Buckley SC said the evidence of the two experts was the most important in the case. The presiding judge Justice Margaret Heneghan added that any verdict other than not guilty by reason of insanity could only be brought if the jury decided to ignore the expert testimony.

She said a verdict of not guilty or guilty could only be theoretical and told the jury "you would be ignoring the evidence of two independent expert witnesses."

The jury deliberated for 40 minutes before reaching unanimous verdicts on both counts.

Justice Heneghan said she would like to extend her "deepest sympathies" to the Cuddihy family and thanked them for how they conducted themselves throughout the trial. She exempted the jury members from service for ten years and committed Mr Cuddihy to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.

He will return to court on June 20 when a doctor will suggest a course of ongoing treatment and care.

Statement in full, read by James Cuddihy Jnr on behalf of the Cuddihy family:

"This is a tragedy for all our family, in particular our beloved parents, Jimmy and Kathleen, but also for our brother Julian. A major factor in all this is while we did take steps to try to get our brother to professional help, decisive actions were not taken by our family which would have prevented this tragedy.

"We hope that nothing like this will ever happen to another family. We would urge families with similar concerns about the mental well-being of a family member to seek timely assistance and intervention."


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