Jury to begin deliberating in Limerick murder trial
on 18/10/2013 18:39:40
John Coughlan (aged 33) of Pineview Gardens, Moyross has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Daniel Treacy (aged 35) at Topaz garage, Caherdavin, Ennis Road on February 22, 2010.
But the court was told the plea was not acceptable and a jury of seven women and five men was sworn in for the two-week trial.
In her closing speech Ms Úna Ni Raifeartaigh SC prosecuting told the jury that it was a very difficult and complex case.
She said that on the face of it there was a planned shooting but on the other hand there was a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.
Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said that the case was very tragic and brought in the killing of the accused's brother by Mr Treacy's brother.
"Because of that earlier killing of Darren Coughlan a lot of things are set in motion," said Ms Ni Raifeartaigh.
"This trial is about whether or not John Coughlan murdered Daniel Treacy," she said.
She said there was nothing in his medical notes over a four-year period about psychotic episodes and that the jury only have his word for it that he was hearing voices.
Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said there is only a reference to him hearing voices two weeks before the shooting on February 22, 2010.
She also asked the jury to consider CCTV footage on the morning of the shooting of a man approaching two relatives of people who were convicted of the killing of Mr Coughlan's brother.
"The prosecution are inviting you to examine the possibility that this was John Coughlan," she said.
Mr Brian McCartney QC defending told the jury that 99 per cent of the evidence in the trial was agreed.
Mr McCartney said that the onus switched to the defence to prove diminished responsibility on the balance of probabilities.
"My client accepts that he did kill this man," said Mr McCartney.
"My client shot this man, you saw it, it was graphic, it was horrific," he said.
"He made no attempt to conceal his identity," he added.
He said Dr Ian Bownes, a psychiatrist the defence called to give evidence, said Mr Coughlan was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing.
"Dr Bownes was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the accused was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia," said Mr McCartney.
He said the psychiatrist called by the prosecution was flawed in his diagnosis but that both of them agreed that he was suffering from a mental disorder-one said it was depression and one said it was schizophrenia.
"Both doctors agree that schizophrenia is a very difficult disease to diagnose," said Mr McCartney.
He said all the evidence in the case and his client's behaviour pointed to him suffering from a mental disorder.
"I ask you to return a verdict of manslaughter in this case," he said.
Mr Justice Paul Carney told the jury that a verdict of 'not guilty' does not arise but they could find him either guilty of murder or guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
He said that the defence of diminished responsibility was raised and the onus shifts to defence to prove it.
He told the jury there was no dispute the accused did the act alleged but it was a matter for them to consider whether he had a mental disorder at the time of the killing.
Mr Justice Carney said the nine out of 10 murder trials did not involve this special defence.
The jury are due to begin deliberating on Monday.