THE woman accused of murdering her ex-husband in Macroom two years ago told a psychiatrist that when she was in hospital a short time before his death, she felt like a firework ready to explode.
The defence closed its case today before Ms Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of seven women and five men at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.
Rita O’Driscoll, aged 48, of Bridge St, Bandon, Co Cork, denies murdering 44-year-old Timmy Foley at 12 Dan Corkery Place, Macroom, Co Cork, on October 8, 2018, and a charge of assault causing serious harm to the deceased man’s brother, Jason Foley.
The defence called only one witness, consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Stephen Monks.
Defence senior counsel Roderick O’Hanlon asked Dr Monks about his interview with the accused, conducted on October 11, 2019, in Mountjoy prison.
Ms O’Driscoll said Timmy Foley abused her from early on in their relationship. She said he had significant problems with alcohol and he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
“In terms of mental health he [the deceased] hid this from her, but at one point he attempted suicide and a psychiatrist told her. She described the relationship as turbulent.
“She commented that she did love him. It grew to fear. He was violent when drinking. He went on to beat her. She showed me a large scar on her left forearm which she said was fractured by her husband, that he smashed her arm with an iron bar. She said he stabbed her in the head a couple of times.
“Her experience was he was always right, she was just a doormat and he controlled her. She said he had a history of violence.
She told me that in the past when experiencing manic mood disturbance she would shoplift. She told me at the time leading up to Timmy’s death she had been feeling suicidal,” Dr Monks said.
She felt everything was coming up against her, that her sister had cancer, her brother John was murdered, and other matters. When she was in Cork University Hospital shortly before Timmy Foley’s death, “she described herself as feeling like a firework ready to explode,” the consultant psychiatrist testified.
Dr Monks agreed with a diagnosis of Ms O’Driscoll having borderline personality disorder. He said she could have feelings of intense anger and have difficulty controlling it and these feelings could be short but could be for minutes to hours.
Noting that bi-polar depression overlapped with borderline personality disorder, prosecution senior counsel Siobhán Lankford asked if a person with such a condition could act in a calm, calculated way in a crisis situation.
Dr Monks replied: “It would be more difficult to act in a calculated way when in an acute episode of bi-polar behaviour. Typically, the behaviour becomes more disorganised.”
It is anticipated that lawyers for the prosecution and defence will make their closing speeches to the jury tomorrow before Ms Justice Creedon addresses the jury on the legal matters pertaining to their deliberations.