Deceased had nearly 30 injuries, court hears

A 32-year-old man with schizophrenia has gone on trial charged with murdering his mother at their Co Kilkenny home last year.

Niall Stapleton, of Glebe Lodge, Kilfane, Thomastown has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Siobhan Stapleton, aged 51, at that address on May 25, 2012. She died of blunt force trauma to the head after being beaten with the handle of a garden fork.

The Central Criminal Court heard the accused initially told gardaí he saw a man leaving the scene, but later admitted he must have snapped and attacked his mother, causing her death.

He maintains he is not guilty by reason of insanity.

His sister, Sinead Stapleton, aged 22, testified yesterday that she was living at home with her brother and their parents at the time.

She confirmed that her brother had been on medication for schizophrenia for a number of years. However, she did not believe he was taking it at the time, as he was behaving erratically.

She said he had asked his mother why he had to take his medicine that week.

“He said she was trying to break his spirit.”

She said her brother was restless in the days before her mother’s death.

She said she was in the sitting room after 1pm and that her mother was doing laundry in the garage.

“I heard my mother gasp,” said Ms Stapleton.

“My initial reaction was that my dog had startled her. I went back to my laptop for about 30 seconds but then I thought it was strange.”

She went outside and found her mother on her side with serious injuries.

“I tried to speak to her but got no response,” she said.

She recalled being aware of her brother beside her and said he appeared to be in shock. He said he had seen a man leaving through the hedge.

Det Insp Michael Hennebry said the accused had been diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis in 2006 and paranoid schizophrenia in 2008.

He said an autopsy found 28 injuries, including multiple fractures of her skull and facial bones.

The accused was arrested for his mother’s murder after her funeral. When the reason for his arrest was explained to him, he replied: “I think you’re definitely wrong. She’s my mother.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Garret Sheehan.


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