The family of a man stabbed to death by his schizophrenic stepson has said that the mental health system in Ireland had let two families down.
A victim impact statement was being read to the Central Criminal Court today, ahead of the committal to the Central Mental Hospital of the man found not guilty by reason of insanity of murdering his mother's partner.
Adam Nolan carried out the stabbing two weeks after being sent home from A&E, where he had gone because he felt he "had to kill" Bryan Cassidy, whom he had loved as a stepfather. An expert told his trial that such a patient would "really" have been "detainable under the Mental Health Act" on the night he attended A&E.
Mr Nolan’s trial heard that Tallaght Hospital was aware that the then 19-year-old had a family history of mental illness, when he was diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, sent home after a number of hours and advised to seek treatment for drug misuse.
He took that advice but stabbed his stepfather to death a fortnight later, while his mother was out of the house. He told gardaí that Mr Cassidy had not known that he had wanted to kill him two weeks earlier.
The diagnosis given at Tallaght Hospital has since been excluded and replaced with one of schizophrenia, something for which he had a genetic vulnerability.
Mr Nolan (aged 21), with an address at Burgh an Ri Walk, Balgaddy, Lucan, Co. Dublin, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murdering father-of-one Bryan Cassidy (aged 52) on February 7, 2018, at the same address. A jury reached a unanimous verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity last week and he was committed to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) pending a report.
He was back before the court today, where Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, read a victim impact statement prepared by the Cassidy family.
“On the 7th February, 2018, our lives were torn apart,” they wrote.
They noted that Mr Cassidy was also a grandfather, who would always be a part of his grandchildren’s lives. However, he would miss watching them grow up.
“The mental health system in Ireland has let two families down,” they wrote, adding that they would never ever come to terms with what happened.
“The loss of a father, son, brother is beyond words,” they explained. “The laughter, hugs, those opportunities to say ‘I love you’ are forever gone.”
His daughter would never again get to hear him call her ‘Sweetheart’, concluded the statement.
Brendan Grehan SC, defending, then read out a letter prepared by Mr Nolan.
“I’d like to say sorry to Bryan’s Mam, Dad and family and also to my Mam and family,” he wrote.
“I never meant for this to happen and I am so sorry for the pain that I have caused,” he continued.
“I loved Bryan. He taught me how to shave. He looked after me whenever I was sick. He was a great man.”
“Bryan was completely blameless. He did nothing wrong. We never even had an argument. We got on great.
“I know he’s up there looking down on us right now. I wish I could sit you all down individually and tell you all how sorry I am that this tragedy happened,” he concluded.
His treating doctor at the CMH then entered the witness box and recommended that he be returned to the hospital, where there was a bed available.
Dr Damian Mohan, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, testified that he had been treating him there for the past year and had prepared the report ordered by the court last week.
He agreed with Mr Grehan that Mr Nolan had profound psychotic symptoms at the start, with a belief that others could hear his thoughts.
He had made progress since then, he said, but continued to have ongoing psychotic symptoms.
“He has had a partial response to treatment,” he explained. “He now accepts he was mentally unwell. He’s in the early stages of recovery.”
He said he was still in need of treatment, and still had beliefs of telepathy and, from time to time, that his thoughts are broadcast.
“He’s very distressed about what has happened and expresses remorse on a daily basis,” he said.
He said that it was anticipated that he would remain under the care of the national forensic mental health services for some time, with his progress reviewed every six months.
“I’m satisfied he suffers from a mental disorder and is in need of inpatient care and treatment,” he said, recommending his return to the CMH.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon made an order in accordance with the Criminal Law Insanity Act, committing him to the hospital.
She then, once again, expressed the court’s sincere sympathies to the family of Bryan Cassidy.