A Mayo man who murdered two elderly brothers with special needs has been told to "rot in hell" by their family after losing an appeal against his conviction.
Alan Cawley (32) of Four Winds, Corrinbla, Ballina, Co Mayo had admitted killing Thomas Blaine (69) and John (Jack) Blaine (76) at New Antrim Street in Castlebar on July 10, 2013, but denied it was murder.
The Central Criminal Court heard that Cawley had bludgeoned them with a shovel and one of their walking sticks. He argued that he had three mental disorders that had diminished his responsibility and was therefore entitled to a manslaughter verdict.
However, he was unanimously found guilty of murder by a jury after an hour and 42 minutes of deliberations and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Coffey on July 25, 2017.
Tom Blaine had schizophrenia and his brother had dementia, a tremor and a severe hunch in his back, having been involved in a serious accident on a building site years earlier.
Both brothers also had speech impediments. They were under the care of the HSE, and a home help called to them three times a day.
Cawley was released from Castlerea prison four days before the killings and was provided with B&B accommodation in Castlebar. He bought a bottle of wine around 5pm on July 9 and was seen drinking three pints of Guinness in pubs later that evening
He had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other disorders as a child. He had also been diagnosed with two personality disorders as an adult, was often on heavy medication, had developed a dependence on alcohol and prescription drugs and was in and out of both hospital and prison.
Cawley unsuccessfully sought to appeal his conviction on grounds that the trial judge erred in his instructions to the jury on the issue of intoxication.
Counsel for Cawley, Caroline Biggs SC, said the trial judge told the jury that they had to “subtract” intoxication and had to consider what Cawley would have done without intoxication, in the context of a purported mental disorder.
She submitted to the Court of Appeal that the jury might have thought they had to exclude intoxication before considering diminished responsibility. She said the two could run together, or be live considerations at the same time.
Dismissing his appeal today, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said there was no basis for saying that intoxication and a mental disorder - “if there was one” - could have both played a part in causing Cawley to behave as he did.
Mr Justice McCarthy said a trial judge’s instructions to a jury is an “exercise in communication” and “the simpler… the better”.
“The core issue in cases of this kind is whether or not, if a mental disorder exists, it substantially diminishes the accused’s responsibility.”
“This is what the jury were told in the clearest terms,” Mr Justice McCarthy said, “using a form of words calculated to exclude alcohol from consideration in the sense that intoxication was excluded as a mental disorder.”
“What more was to be said?” the judge asked, adding that there was no reason to think the jury were confused by the introduction of intoxication into the case.
Mr Justice McCarthy, who sat with Ms Justice Máire Whelan and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said there were no errors in the judge’s instructions and the appeal was therefore dismissed.
After the judgment, a number of men related to the Blaine brothers approached Cawley and called him a “murdering scumbag” asking him if he was happy with what he did, telling him to "rot in hell”.
On a previous occasion, the Court of Appeal was told that an inquest into the deaths of the brothers couldn’t proceed until Cawley’s criminal appeal was dealt with. He lodged an appeal against his conviction shortly after it was recorded in 2017. The hearing took place in June of this year.