Bandon man accused of attempted murder of his mother 'not fit to plead guilty or not guilty' in theft case

Bandon man accused of attempted murder of his mother 'not fit to plead guilty or not guilty' in theft case

File image. Gearoid Coughlan pictured as he appeared at Bandon District Court on Thursday 17th June 2021. Pic: Larry Cummins

A Bandon man accused of attempting to murder his mother had another case against him for allegedly stealing alcohol from a supermarket a week earlier and now a judge has found him mentally unfit to deal with the theft case.

Judge Helen Boyle made an order at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in the theft case to commit Gearóid Coughlan, 31, of Ballycoughlan, Innishannon, County Cork, to the Central Mental Hospital for a period of 14 days.

That committal was made on foot of evidence that the accused man was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and experiencing psychotic episodes.

Judge Boyle was told that the defendant faced two charges of theft of six cans of beer, and of five cans of beer and a bottle of gin, from Aldi in Dunmanway on May 28 and 29. 

The judge was told that in respect of an alleged incident one week later on June 4 he was accused of attempting to murder his mother Mary Coughlan at her home in Bandon and that this attempted murder case had been sent forward to the Central Criminal Court.

In respect of the theft charges, defence barrister Jane Hyland submitted that the accused man was mentally unfit to plead guilty or not guilty to the theft charges. She said that he had only recently been sent to the CMH in Dundrum having spent more than two months in Cork Prison.

The matter came before Judge Boyle marked peremptorily against the state and she said she had to deal with the application to find the accused unfit to deal with the matter.

Ms Hyland BL called prison psychiatrist Dr Eugene Morgan who prepared three reports on the accused man while he was in Cork Prison. Gearóid Coughlan was remanded in custody to there on June 6.

Dr Morgan testified, “This man appears to have chronic schizophrenia. Unfortunately, he also takes illicit drugs including head shop drugs – he consumes quantities of drugs and then gets quite psychotic. 

"He has responded well to medication in the past but is extremely paranoid and has a complex delusionary pattern (about being attacked).” 

Referring to the defendant being in Cork Prison through the Summer and the failure to have him admitted sooner to the CMH, Dr Morgan said, “The extreme delay in getting to the Central Mental Hospital in my opinion means that it will take longer to treat him and affect the prognosis.” 

Dr Morgan agreed with Ms Hyland that not alone was the accused man not fit to stand trial but he was not even in a fit state to attend court.

Judge Boyle said in the course of her decision to formally commit him to the CMH for 14 days, “This man has an elaborate delusional system of being harassed and persecuted… There was an extreme delay in getting him into the CMH - His recovery will take longer and it will be more difficult to treat him.” 

The judge then adjourned the matter for 14 days until September 29 at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

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