Man who killed his mother is committed

An autistic man who beat his mother to death in a “very sad case, with a sad background narrative”, has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

Bijan Afshar, 23, was accused of the murder of his mother Lynn Cassidy, 50, at her home in Deepdales, Bray, Co Wicklow, on June 26 or 27, 2014. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and the jury of six men and six women delivered a unanimous verdict after less than one hour of deliberation at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Afshar, who beat his mother to death when she told him she couldn’t prevent the sale of the house he shared with his father, was committed to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dundrum for inpatient care.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy ordered his committal on foot of a report by Dr Anthony Kearns, consultant forensic psychiatrist, based at the CMH in Dublin.

In his report, Dr Kearns assessed Mr Afshar as suffering from a state of mind that affected his thinking, observations, emotion, and judgment. He said Mr Afshar had autism, with features of such capacity that treatment was required to prevent further such occurrences.

Dr Kearns agreed with Michael O’Higgins, defending, that Mr Afshar was vulnerable and his condition could deteriorate if he was not admitted for treatment.

The expert agreed programmes would benefit Mr Afshar up to the point where he could have some independent form of living. It was an “attainable goal”, said Dr Kearns .

If detained under the act, he will be reviewed by the Mental Health Board and considered in due course for discharge, the court heard.

Ms Justice Kennedy said she was satisfied Mr Afshar was suffering from a mental disorder under the definition of the 2006 Criminal Law Insanity) Act and was in need of inpatient care in “the only designated centre”, the CMH. She ordered his committal to the CMH for inpatient care and treatment until an order is made under Section 13 of the Act.

In his closing statements to the jury, Mr O’Higgins said this was a “very sad case, with a sad background narrative”. He reminded the jury that two consultant psychiatrists had given their opinion that Mr Afshar was not in control of his actions and “unable to refrain” from killing his mother. He said this case was unusual in that both the prosecution and defence were in agreement and both were urging the same verdict.

Ms Justice Kennedy said there was no evidence that would refute the expert witnesses. She said that while the jury was free to return a verdict of guilty of murder or not guilty of murder, any finding other than not guilty by reason of insanity would be “open to criticism”.

When the jury delivered the verdict, she exempted them from jury service for 15 years.


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