A 50-year-old woman with schizophrenia has been deemed unfit to stand trial for the murder of a Malawian national at her south Dublin home last year.
Grace Miano, originally from Kenya, but with an address at Tudor Lawns in Foxrock, Dublin 18, is charged with murdering Limbani “Robert” Mzoma, 27, on November 1, 2018, at the same address.
At a Central Criminal Court hearing on Tuesday, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon heard there was an issue to be decided by her concerning Ms Miano’s fitness to stand trial.
Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, called a consultant forensic psychiatrist from the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) to give evidence on the issue.
Dr Ronan Mullaney told the court that he interviewed Ms Miano on several occasions in order to give his opinion regarding her fitness to be tried and had prepared two reports for the court.
Ms Miano was admitted to the CMH on November 15, 2018, he explained.
Dr Mullaney said that Ms Miano had been admitted to psychiatric services at Tallaght Hospital in July 2017 after maintaining that toxic gases were piped into her home “which burned her brain”.
Dr Mullaney said that he formed an opinion following an assessment in November 2018 that the accused woman had suffered from auditory hallucinations over many years prior to the alleged offence.
Ms Miano continued to present in subsequent assessments as mentally unwell and the insight into her illness remained poor, remarked the witness, adding that she appeared to lack an appreciation for the gravity of the situation.
Dr Mullaney said he interviewed Ms Miano on another occasion in February of this year in which she recounted a number of “deluded conspiracy beliefs”.
The witness assessed Ms Miano last week and found that the insight into her condition was poor, he said, adding that she is currently receiving an injectable form of anti-psychotic medication.
Concerning her fitness to be tried, Dr Mullaney said that the accused woman suffers from schizoaffective disorder, a mental disorder which is characterised by holding “bizarre and infeasible delusional beliefs”.
The witness formed the opinion that Ms Miano is unfit to be tried according to the criteria in Section 4 of the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2006.
Furthermore, the witness explained that the accused is unable to plead to the charge, instruct a legal representative as well as make a proper defence.
The defence then called Dr Paul O’Connell, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the CMH, to give evidence.
Dr O’Connell told defence counsel Michael Bowman SC that he first met with Ms Miano in November 2018.
During this meeting, the accused woman spoke “a great deal about beliefs she held” including that she was being persecuted by members of the Royal Family who were trying to kill her, said Dr O’Connell.
The witness said he met with the accused woman on two more occasions in May 2019.
Dr O’Connell outlined to the court that Ms Miano is unfit to stand trial as she is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, which is a mental disorder.
Schizoaffective disorder and paranoid schizophrenia have “similar themes” and are "effectively the same disorder", explained Dr O’Connell.
“She is not capable of considering her defence options and could not give a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity proper exploration,” he concluded.
Ms Justice Creedon today made an order committing Ms Miano to the Central Mental Hospital until June 20.
She also directed the preparation of a psychiatric assessment by an approved medical officer.