Cork man charged with assaulting mother has history of paranoid schizophrenia, court hears

Cork man charged with assaulting mother has history of paranoid schizophrenia, court hears

Gearoid Coughlan, of Ballycoughlan, Innishannon in Co Cork, had already appeared before Bandon District Court in connection with an assault on his mother, Mary, on June 4 last. Photo: Larry Cummins

A court has heard that a man already charged with an assault on his mother may be facing a more serious charge, and that an application for entry to the Central Mental Hospital has also been made on his behalf.

Gearoid Coughlan, of Ballycoughlan, Innishannon in Co. Cork, had already appeared before Bandon District Court in connection with an assault on his mother, Mary, on June 4 last.

The 31-year-old returned to court from custody on Monday, when Judge James McNulty explained to him and his solicitor, Plunkett Taaffe, what Mr Coughlan may need to do in the event of a bail application in future.

Inspector David Callaghan indicated that a more serious charge is a possibility and Judge McNulty told Mr Coughlan that it could take months before any trial.

"If you do not get bail in the district court, Mr Taaffe can apply to the High Court to get you out on bail, but you will not get bail if you are unstable, or if you are a danger to other citizens or if there is a danger that you will commit other serious offences," the judge said.

Judge McNulty said the previous court sitting last Friday had heard that Mr Coughlan had not been taking prescribed medication and that a report provided to court by a consultant psychiatrist in Cork Prison had outlined how Mr Coughlan had a longstanding history of paranoid schizophrenia and polysubstance drug abuse, and that he had defaulted on his medication.

Possibility of bail application

He suggested to Mr Coughlan and his solicitor that to be released on bail he may need to prove that he is stable, and that he could take steps to achieve this.

These included resuming taking the prescribed medication, under supervision, abstaining from drug use, and understanding that failure to continue taking medication could result in the termination of any bail that may be granted.

The judge also suggested that Mr Coughlan would need to have a safe place to live, under supervision, possibly with his siblings.

The judge said he was spelling out the likely parameters for any future bail application so Gearoid could begin work on them.

Mr Coughlan referred to the charges as "allegations", while Mr Taaffe said he understood that a substantial surety might also be required for any future release on bail.

Central Mental Hospital

Judge McNulty also referred to his understanding as to a long waiting list for the Central Mental Hospital and queried whether an application for entry there had been made on Mr Coughlan's behalf, adding that the likelihood of him being able to stay there while awaiting trial was "slim".

Mr Taaffe said: "He is on a waiting list - it is a matter of weeks, not days. The application has been made."

Mr Coughlan referred to the effects of isolation in prison and said resuming medication could be stressful. 

Judge McNulty suggested that he speak with his brother, who had recently told the court that in the not-too-distant past Mr Coughlan had been exercising regularly and had been "in good shape".

The matter was adjourned until July 5 next and Insp. Callaghan said Ms Coughlan was still in treatment following the incident on June 4.

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