A 29-year-old man admits he killed his mother “without justification” by giving her five fatal blows to the head with a hatchet as she lay in her bed, a jury heard in a murder trial.
During today’s opening of Patrick Dunne’s trial in the Central Criminal Court, a prosecutor said that psychiatrists for both the prosecution and the defense agreed the defendant was insane “within the meaning of the law” at the time of his mother’s death.
Patrick Gageby SC, who defended Mr Dunne, made a number of factual admissions on behalf of his client in court today.
These included alleging that the defendant killed his mother, Susan Dunne, and did so “without lawful justification.”
Mr Dunne, from Ballingeragh, Lixnaw, Co Kerry, was brought on trial in Central Criminal Court today after pleading not guilty to the murder of his mother Susan Dunne, 62, between 26th and 27th November 2013 at the same address to have.
Dominic McGinn SC opened the case to prosecutors today and said it was a “quite unusual trial” as much of it will involve testimony being read to the jury.
Outlining the facts of the case, Mr McGinn said Ms Dunne’s body was found in her bedroom between 11am and 11.30am on the morning of 27 November.
Ms Dunne, who was already dead when found, suffered at least five blows to the head, he said.
The lawyer told the jury that Ms Dunne’s son Patrick was 19 at the time and had been diagnosed with autism at a relatively young age.
The defendant required additional care “in addition to usual parental requirements,” he added.
The attorney for the prosecution further told the court that the Lixnaw and Listowel communities are used to the sight of Ms Dunne driving around in her car with her son Patrick in the back seat.
Mr McGinn detailed the evidence being heard and said one of Ms Dunne’s regular duties was to collect her son’s disability allowance from the post office.
“She took care of his welfare card. Patrick withdrew the money and then Susan gave him €5 for herself,” he explained.
What caused concern on November 27, the attorney said, was that Patrick arrived at the post office alone, withdrew the money himself and was seen driving around in his mother’s car unaccompanied.
“Because of this, various neighbors were alerted and they went to the Dunne house,” he said.
There will be evidence, Mr McGinn said, that neighbors found the front door of the Dunne house unlocked but one of the inner doors was locked.
The lawyer further explained that one of the neighbors opened a window and looked in.
The neighbor made the decision to force open the bedroom door where he found Ms Dunne’s body.
The neighbor immediately called the emergency services and when the rescue team arrived they found Mrs. Dunne without a pulse and cold to touch.
Ms Dunne was officially pronounced dead at 11.51am this morning.
Mr McGinn outlined the circumstances of the deceased’s death and said that State Pathologist Dr. Margaret Bolster performed a full autopsy and confirmed that Ms Dunne sustained six wounds to her head, five of which were of a significant size and were behind her right ear.
dr Under the wounds, Bolster found multiple fractures and fatal trauma to the deceased’s brain.
“She confirmed that brain trauma was the cause of death and that the wounds were consistent as Ms. Dunne lay in bed in the position she was found in,” he continued.
Mr McGinn said proof will be that a hatchet used to chop wood was found in the kitchen.
dr Bolster found that Ms. Dunne’s wounds were consistent with being inflicted by the axe.
The attorney also told the jury that gardaí found the hatchet next to the refrigerator in the kitchen, that the blade was clean but had some bloodstain on the back, which matched the defendant’s DNA profile.
A DNA profile was also performed on the hatchet’s handle and the main profile matched the defendant’s DNA, he said.
The court heard more evidence. Gardaí spent the next few days questioning witnesses Patrick had encountered that morning to establish a pattern of what had happened.
Mr McGinn said a man encountered Mr Dunne at 9.30am that day when the accused arrived at his home and began asking about his sister.
The man’s sister worked at the defendant’s former school and Mr Dunne “developed a bond” with her, he said.
The lawyer said Mr Dunne was also driven alone in his mother’s car by a local woman that morning.
The defendant was at the post office at 10.30am that morning where he collected his disability allowance, Mr McGinn said.
Staff noticed something unusual was going on and contacted the family’s neighbors, he added.
There will also be evidence, the lawyer said, that the accused spoke to a man who worked in a town center shop and had lent Mr Dunne his mobile phone.
The defendant then contacted a woman he had met through his previous school to try to set up a meeting with her that morning in Listowel.
“She said she wasn’t available until later that day, but Patrick went to the Listowel Arms Hotel that morning and said he was there to meet a friend,” he said.
The defendant, the lawyer said, was later seen on the street at 11 a.m. telling another man that he was in town with his mother, who was shopping.
At 11:30 a.m., the attorney said, Mr. Dunne walked to Listowel Community College, where he attended once a week, drank a cup of tea and spoke to staff.
At that point, the solicitor said Ms Dunne’s body had been found and gardaí had been alerted.
There will also be evidence that Garda Declan McDonagh noticed Ms Dunne’s car parked on Market Street in Listowel and walked towards it.
The Garda said he told Patrick Dunne his mother was found dead when he saw the accused approach the car.
The Garda also suggested that Mr. Dunne accompany him to Listowel Garda station as he was probably the last person they saw.
Gda McDonagh arrested Patrick Dunne after being told the defendant had been identified as a formal suspect in the case.
The court will also hear evidence, the lawyer said, that the defendant’s key worker Gardaí said Mr Dunne suffered from autism and some other problems.
He was examined by a local family doctor and a consultant psychiatrist, both of whom said the accused was fit for questioning.
Mr Dunne has conducted a number of interviews and in due course the jury will hear the details of the report made by the defendant, he said.
“He accepted that he had hit his mother with a hatchet, that he had left the hatchet in the kitchen and he explained the reasons for that,” Mr McGinn said.
The court will also hear the lawyer hinting at what happened that prompted Mr Dunne to hit his mother and the various events that took place before and after the attack.
The defendant was released from Garda custody and formally charged with murder in November 2013.
The lawyer said there had been a delay since 2013, when the defendant was assessed by a psychiatrist and found unfit to stand trial.
The lawyer added: “He did not have sufficient capacity to understand what was going on and was committed to a psychiatric facility for treatment. This has been the position since 2013 and more recently he was deemed fit to stand trial.”
Ms Dunne suffered six blows to the head with a hatchet, five of which were fatal, Mr McGinn said, adding that the natural and probable consequences of this infliction were that at least one person would suffer serious harm or be likely to die.
The attorney told the jury that this was an “unusual case” because a special defense was available that allowed them to enter a verdict of insanity based on an assessment by the professional psychiatrists in the case.
In summary, Mr McGinn told the jury that they will hear evidence from two psychiatrists, both of whom agree that the defendant was insane within the meaning of the law at the time of his mother’s death. He said it was for the jury to decide whether the “psychiatrists’ decision” could be accepted and that the important evidence in the case came from the psychiatrists.
Mr Gageby told the court it had been accepted that the matter had been properly investigated by the authorities and said the “only question” in the case was whether the accused was not guilty of insanity.
The trial will continue this afternoon before Ms. Judge Mary Ellen Ring and a jury of five men and seven women. It is expected to last three days.
https://www.independent.ie/news/man-admits-killing-his-mother-by-inflicting-five-fatal-blows-to-her-head-with-a-hatchet-as-she-lay-in-her-bed-42067210.html The man admits to killing his mother by giving her five fatal blows to the head with a hatchet as she lay in her bed