Autistic man beat mother to death

An autistic man beat his mother to death because he could not cope with the stress of moving home, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Bijan Afshar, aged 23, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder of his mother Lynn Cassidy at her home in Deepdales, Bray, Co Wicklow, on June 26 or 27, 2014.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright yesterday told defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC that she believes Mr Afshar had no control over his actions when he lashed out and beat his mother to death.

She said he was so distressed at the prospect of moving home that he believed his only options were to convince his mother to halt the sale or kill himself.

When she told him she couldn’t prevent the house being sold he “lost control” she said. “At the time, he was unable to refrain from committing the act because of his mental disorder.”

Mr O’Higgins explained to the jury that under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act, a person cannot be guilty of murder if they were unable to control their actions due to a mental disorder.

Dr Wright said that his mental disorder is autism, with depression as a contributing factor.

Describing the history of his condition, Dr Wright said that Mr Afshar’s autism was diagnosed late because he had relatively good speaking skills and could interact with other children. However, once he entered his teens and his peers started to develop more complex relationships he became withdrawn and shy. His condition was also effected by his parents’ separation in 2008. After performing poorly in his Junior Cert exams he refused to go back to school and became obsessed with computer games and a blog he had created that had about 5,000 followers.

He was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum and began attending a clinic in the Bray area. However, his parents found it difficult to get him to engage. When he turned 18 his routine had settled down and he was relatively calm but obsessive and hated any change.

His social skills deteriorated and on one occasion, when left to look after himself while his father Mohammed travelled to Iran, he was discovered lying in bed in his own faeces.

Dr Wright said the prospect of the move caused Mr Afshar great distress. She said this kind of response is often seen in people with an autistic disorder.

During an interview with Dr Wright, he said he had thought of going to Howth to throw himself off a cliff.

On the night his mother died he went to her house to tell her the move was causing him great anxiety and that he was feeling suicidal.

The trial will continue in front of Justice Isobel Kennedy and a jury of six men and six women tomorrow.


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