Victim’s son: Review psych hospital protocols

The son of a woman stabbed more than 100 times by a man suffering a psychotic episode yesterday called for a review of safety procedures and protocols in psychiatric hospitals.
Victim’s son: Review psych hospital protocols

The family of Maria O’Brien, aged 55, spoke of their shock and trauma at the manner of her death while a patient in St Otteran’s Hospital in Waterford in September 2014.

Paul Cuddihy, 38, was yesterday committed to the Central Mental Hospital for continuing treatment.

Two weeks ago, Mr Cuddihy, formerly of St Otteran’s Hospital in Waterford, was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of Ms O’Brien.

The jury reached the same verdict on charges of assault, causing harm, to fellow hospital resident Mary Nugent and nurses Breda Fennelly, Terry Hayes and Mary Grant.

Ms O’Brien’s family said she should have been kept safe while in treatment.

In a victim impact statement, Ms O’Brien’s son Patrick Halley said he was close to his mother and she was a vulnerable person who was not always shown the love she deserved.

“Nevertheless, she was always a bubbly and happy person who nearly always had a smile on her face.

“She was a gentle, kind-hearted person who genuinely wouldn’t harm a fly,” he said.

She particularly loved her children, he said, and her last words were “remember the children”.

“This shows how much she loved us all,” he said.

“And she is very much missed by her family and very much missed by myself.”

He said he accepts Mr Cuddihy has a mental illness but said he will “never forgive him for what he did to my mother”.

He told the court he had more to say but had been told he was not allowed to say it.

Ms O’Brien’s brother, Joe O’Mahony said he grew up not knowing his sister as they were raised separately following the break-up of their parents’ marriage. When they got to know one another as adults they formed a bond.

“Maria was an innately warm-hearted individual who was kind, caring and would greet me and others with great childlike enthusiasm.”

He said they had an “unspoken love for each other”.

The manner of her death had left him traumatised, he said, and he has suffered shock and lack of sleep after finding out she had cried out for help and “pleaded with her killer to stop”.

“Maria has died and been taken from us in the most horrific way, especially in light of the fact that at this time she was actually making progress and improving. What life could have been like for her we will never know.”

A forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, Dr Damian Mohan told the court he had assessed Mr Cuddihy following the trial verdict and is satisfied he is still suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. The patient has made little progress and does not accept that he is ill or needs help.

Dr Mohan also said Mr Cuddihy has shown little remorse and when questioned about Maria O’Brien’s death he was dismissive and told him: “it’s over and done with, forget about it”.

Justice Patrick McCarthy committed Mr Cuddihy to the Central Mental Hospital under Section 5 (2) of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act.

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