A man who shot a Lake Garda was not psychotic at the time of the shooting and was not suffering from delusions, a psychiatrist told a jury in a murder trial.
Tephen Silver, 46, a motorcycle mechanic from Aughaward, Foxford, Co. Mayo, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Detective Garda Horkan by knowing or being reckless if he was a member of An Garda Siochana and in accordance with acted on his duty. He pled guilty to manslaughter on 17 June 2020 in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon on the basis of diminished responsibility.
Mr Silver admits he shot Gda Horkan but Dr. Brenda Wright, a psychiatrist called by his defense, said the defendant was suffering from a mental disorder at the time, which reduced his responsibility.
Psychiatrist Professor Harry Kennedy, subpoenaed by prosecutors, disagreed with Dr. Wright and said that Mr. Silver’s mental capacity was intact at the time of the murder.
On the final day of evidence at the trial, Prof. Kennedy told Defense Counsel Roisin Lacey SC that Mr. Silver performed a complex sequence of acts in the assassination of Gda Horkan that demonstrates his ability to form intent.
He said Mr Silver described gaining control of Gda Horkan’s gun during a fight, pulling the trigger, hitting Gda Horkan in the head with the gun’s butt and attempting to hit him a second time.
Mr Silver said he then saw Gda Horkan fall to the ground and he, Mr Silver, held the gun with his right hand outstretched and his left hand supported.
He then described pulling the trigger multiple times, aiming for the torso rather than the head or feet. Prof Kennedy said the defendant had a number of options, including shooting in the air or throwing the gun away.
He added: “From a psychiatric perspective, the ability to perform these complex sequential actions is evidence of his ability to develop intention to perform those actions.”
Ms Lacey told the witness that “shooting a gun is simply pulling a trigger”. Prof. Kennedy replied: “It’s not just about using the index finger, it’s about holding it, aiming, firing it again and again, deciding where to point and shooting. It’s the perception, the understanding and the reasoning, all these things, actions, mental assessments, assessment of the situation, all of that.”
Prof. Kennedy said that a person suffering from delusions may believe that they are commanded by God and therefore their options are limited. In the absence of such “delusional psychotic limitations of choice,” he said, “the situation is the same as for everyone else.”
Prof Kennedy said Mr Silver was not psychotic at the time of the shooting and was not suffering from delusions.
He said he considered whether anger, fear or strong emotions might affect the choice, but added: “They don’t affect the ability to make decisions. Strong emotions are normal in a fight or fight, it’s always the case.”
He said he had considered whether Mr. Silver was having a relapse of mental illness, but “found many examples of Mr. Silver being able to perceive intentions, to make and shape decisions, and to act on those intentions”.
He said that immediately after the shooting, Mr Silver refused to be handcuffed around his back, but Gardaí allowed him to be handcuffed in the front.
“He’s able to negotiate by introducing decisions that he made up,” Prof Kennedy said, adding that this happened immediately after the shooting and is therefore “most relevant”.
He said all the information available to him indicated that Mr Silver had not relapsed or that he may have had some “very early minor signs or beginnings of relapse but nothing that would affect his ability to the extent relevant here.” “.
The trial before the Central Criminal Court is now entering its final phase following the conclusion of the defense proceedings, the jury also heard today.
Mr Judge Paul McDermott told the seven men and five women that the final phase will involve the completion of submissions from prosecution and defense attorneys, followed by the judge’s indictment, in which he will set the legal parameters by which the jury will be judged will decide the case. He said this phase will last “a few days” and start tomorrow.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/mechanic-who-shot-dead-garda-was-not-psychotic-at-time-of-shooting-psychiatrist-tells-murder-trial-42125924.html Mechanic who shot Garda wasn’t psychotic at time of shooting, says psychiatrist at murder trial