Man accused of damaging Monet painting had heart op a year later, court hears

Man accused of damaging Monet painting had heart op a year later, court hears

A man who claims he collapsed into a €10m painting by Claude Monet had a quadruple heart bypass a year later, his trial has heard.

Andrew Shannon (aged 48), of Willans Way, Ongar, Dublin 15, denies causing criminal damage to the impressionist painting at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin on June 29, 2012.

He told eye-witnesses he “felt weak” and “fell against” the oil painting, explaining to paramedics that he suffered from unstable angina.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Mr Shannon arrived at St James's Hospital on July 2, 2013 having suffered a heart attack.

Consultant surgeon Nicholas Walcot told Brendan Grehan SC, defending, that he supervised coronary surgery on Mr Shannon on July 15, 2013.

He said Mr Shannon had 90% blockages in all three major vessels of the heart, which would have built up over the years.

Kerida Nadioo BL, prosecuting showed Mr Walcot CCTV footage of the painting being damaged.

The surgeon said typical symptoms of heart problems include chest pain and shortness of breath.

He said other more unusual heart problems could be structural or rhythmic in nature, which could result in dramatic complications like sudden death.

Mr Walcot said the accused man did not have rhythmic heart problems, but that it was possible he has a “pre-structural problem” which involves feeling faint “as if getting out of a hot bath”.

“It's an unusual presentation, it probably occurs in about one per cent of patients,” he said.

Asked for his expert opinion on the event in the gallery, Mr Walcot said that Mr Shannon's getting up and walking away was “a little bit inconsistent.”

“If somebody collapses, I would have thought the person would stay down, or sit down quickly,” he said.

The court also heard from GP Dr Yasser Fakih, who attended Mr Shannon twice while he was in custody the day after the incident.

Dr Fakih said Mr Shannon told him he had unstable angina since 1998.

The second time the doctor saw him, Mr Shannon complained of dizziness. He said his chest pain was becoming more frequent and that the spray prescribed for his angina wasn't giving any relief.

Dr Fakih said he referred the accused to hospital as he was afraid he was going to have an “imminent heart attack”.

Earlier in the trial, a paramedic who had examined Mr Shannon within an hour of the incident told the court that his vital signs had been “very stable” and gave no cause for concern.

An ECG heart test performed on Mr Shannon in an ambulance en route to St James's Hospital from the gallery was normal.

Mr Shannon was arrested immediately after he was discharged from hospital on the day of the incident.

Two tourists who witnessed the painting being damaged told the court that Mr Shannon had lunged at the canvas with his fist “like a hammer”.

They said it seemed “deliberate” and “planned”, while head of security at the gallery described it as “no accident”.

Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, dating from 1874, depicts an autumnal river scene at a village outside Paris where Claude Monet lived for some years after the Franco-Prussian War.

The painting is one of very few by Claude Monet in public ownership in Ireland.

The trial continues tomorrow before Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of seven women and five men.

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