Accused suffers paranoid schizophrenia, jury hears

A forensic psychiatrist has told a jury that a murder accused who stabbed his mother to death was suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia” and would have been unable to refrain from his actions at the time.

Fionn Braidwood, aged 32, of Clarinda Park East, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, is charged with murdering his mother, Jane Braidwood, aged 65, on January 20, 2015, at the same address.

Yesterday, at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Braidwood pleaded not guilty to murdering Jane Braidwood.

Mr Braidwood also pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Ceili Braidwood and Anthony Maguire at the same address and on the same date.

Alex Owens, prosecuting, told the jury the central issue they will be asked to consider is if they should bring in a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity against Mr Braidwood.

The court heard evidence by video link from Ceili Braidwood. On January 20, 2015, Ceili Braidwood was living with her mother in Dún Laoghaire. The accused was living there “on and off since Christmas” and her father had died some years previously, the court heard.

Mr Braidwood went off his medication in November 2014, having been on medication for bipolar disorder, manic depression, and schizophrenia, the court heard.

In the weeks leading up to January 2015, Mr Braidwood spent a lot of time in the house, was sleeping all day, and was starving himself.

At about 4.30pm on January 20, Mr Braidwood made “an appearance”, as he had been in bed previously in his bedroom, which was on the top floor of the house.

Ceili Braidwood told the court she was “working from home” that day and she then heard her brother ask her mother some questions.

She agreed her brother wanted his mother to facilitate him going to Australia.

“He wanted her to ask our aunts in Australia to help him and let him stay as they lived over there,” she told the court. “He didn’t need a visa as we have double citizenship.”

The deceased tried to persuade her son it was a bad idea to go to Australia and he was in no condition to do it.

There was talk about the accused’s medication, the court heard.

Then Mr Braidwood went silent. “This was the point he lost control and became quite angry,” said Ceili Braidwood.

The court heard he then strode “purposely” towards the knife drawer.

The court heard that Mr Braidwood had never been violent towards Ceili Braidwood or her mother before.

Ceili Braidwood said she heard her mother screaming something at her son as he took a long and sharp knife from the drawer but it happened very quickly.

The witness said she then saw her brother struggling with her mother as her mother tried to run away.

Ms Braidwood then saw her brother stabbing her mother several times.

Her mother then moved towards the kitchen door and she heard her say: “Call an ambulance.” The knife was in her mother’s back.

Ceili Braidwood locked herself in the bathroom and dialled emergency services.

She then got to the front door of the house and started shouting for help. She saw Anthony Maguire, who rang the emergency services on his mobile phone.

Patrick Gageby, defending, called forensic psychiatrist Brenda Wright from the Central Mental Hospital.

Dr Wright told the court Mr Braidwood has paranoid schizophrenia and became acutely unwell in 2007.

“His illness was significantly complicated by noncompliance with medication and non-engagement with mental health teams,” she said.

It is her view that the accused was acutely mentally unwell at the time of the offence and suffering a relapse of paranoid schizophrenia. She said he would have been unable to refrain from committing the act at the time of his mental disorder.

The trial continues.


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