Manslaughter accused may have been unfit for Garda interview, court hears

A doctor has accepted under cross-examination that a man accused of manslaughter may have been unfit for garda interview shortly after he was arrested and detained for the offence.

A doctor has accepted under cross-examination that a man accused of manslaughter may have been unfit for garda interview shortly after he was arrested and detained for the offence.

Dr Harold Kahn described in evidence how he had given heroin addict Paul Gibbons 30 millilitres of methadone and two Diazepam tablets during a visit to him in custody, but had deemed him fit for interview.

Mr Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, put it to the doctor that it would have been “useful and prudent” for him to have viewed video footage of Mr Gibbons's garda interviews to make a proper evaluation of his condition.

Dr Kahn agreed nobody had approached him with this suggestion and that his consultation notes on Mr Gibbons had been “overwhelmingly inadequate”.

Paul Gibbons (aged 27), of Moatview Drive, Priorswood, has pleaded not guilty to unlawfully killing Mr Valeri Ranert (aged 27) at Naul Road, Swords on April 30, 2007. He has also pleaded not guilty to unlawfully seizing by force the Golf belonging to Mr Ranert on the same occasion.

Mr O’Higgins put it to Dr Kahn that gardaí caught his client with various illicit drugs in his cell after the doctor’s first visit and prior to an official interview.

Dr Kahn accepted gardaí did not notify him for a further 40 minutes following the incident and agreed it “wasn’t good practice” to have allowed an interview to continue when there may have been a possible drugs overdose.

Mr O’Higgins told Dr Kahn that a consultant psychiatrist studied Mr Gibbons’s interview footage on behalf of the defence and concluded the accused “presented in various degrees of sedation” with slurred speech, yawning and slow movements.

Dr Paul O’Connell had noted that during one interview that the accused objected to being called a “scumbag” when the expression was never used by anyone present.

Dr O’Connell concluded that here Mr Gibbons had possibly experienced a hallucinogenic effect associated with falling asleep.

Dr Kahn earlier told Mr Michael Durack SC, prosecuting, that he noted the accused was on drugs after a second examination in custody but did not think his condition seriousness enough to warrant a trip to hospital.

Dr Kahn said he did not administer any more medication to the accused that night but gave him methadone and Diazepam tablets the following day.

Dr Kahn agreed with Mr O’Higgins that people who abuse intoxicating substances can have amnesiac reactions and can’t give accurate chronological details of events while they are under the influence.

He agreed that an intoxicated person can give unreliable information.

The doctor agreed he no longer stood over his previous assertion that Mr Gibbons had been fit for interview when Mr O'Higgins put it to him that his investigation of the accused’s condition had been inadequate, that nobody had approached him suggesting he should view video footage and that he had “widespread” acceptance of Dr O’Connell’s views.

The trial continues before Judge Tony Hunt and a jury of six men and six women.

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