Murder accused's mental disorders did not qualify under Criminal Law Insanity Act, psychiatrist tells court

Murder accused's mental disorders did not qualify under Criminal Law Insanity Act, psychiatrist tells court
Alan Cawley

A forensic psychiatrist for the State has told a Mayo man's murder trial that although he had personality disorders when he killed two elderly brothers with special needs, they did not qualify as mental disorders in law.

It follows the evidence earlier this week of a defence psychiatrist, who told the Central Criminal Court that Alan Cawley had three mental disorders at the time and that they had diminished his responsibility for his actions.

If satisfied that he had a qualifying mental disorder, the jury could find him guilty of manslaughter rather than murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The 30-year-old of Four Winds, Corrinbla, Ballina, Co Mayo has admitted killing Thomas Blaine (aged 69) and John (Jack) Blaine (aged 76).

However, he has pleaded not guilty to murdering them on July 10, 2013 at New Antrim Street in Castlebar.

The State today called forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright, who gave a different conclusion to that of the defence’s witness, Dr Pawan Rajpal.

She told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that she studied Mr Cawley’s medical and psychology records dating from when he was four years of age. She also interviewed the accused and his parents.

She said she agreed with Dr Rajpal’s diagnoses of both Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. However, she disagreed with his opinion that they were mental disorders under the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006.

She said that the types of disorders allowed under the Act impaired a person’s capacity or ability to make decisions, to understand or remember information needed to make decisions, to weigh up the pros and cons of decisions or to communicate them.

She said that a personality disorder did not.

“Therefore, it’s my view it’s not a mental disorder under the Act,” she said.

Dr Rajpal 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 she looked for behaviour that would suggest such a difficulty in videos of the interviews he gave the gardaí in the days after the killing. However, she said she found none.

She will continue her evidence tomorrow morning before Mr Justice Paul Coffey and a jury of four women and eight men.

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