Cork man unfit to plead to attempted murder charge found fit to plead to theft charges, court hears  

The man was previously remanded in custody at the Central Mental Hospital on the grounds that he is unfit to plead guilty to a charge of attempting to murder his mother. 
Cork man unfit to plead to attempted murder charge found fit to plead to theft charges, court hears  

The accused man said he now wants to plead guilty to that theft offence as soon as possible as he wants to get out of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH). File image from previous court appearance. Picture: Larry Cummins

A Bandon man remanded in custody at the Central Mental Hospital on the grounds that he is unfit to plead guilty to a charge of attempting to murder his mother has been found fit to plead to a charge of stealing alcohol from a supermarket.

The accused man said he now wants to plead guilty to that theft offence as soon as possible as he wants to get out of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH).

Judge Helen Boyle was told that the theft case was before Cork Circuit Criminal Court against defendant, Gearóid Coughlan, 31, of Ballycoughlan, Innishannon, County Cork.

Jane Hyland defence barrister reminded Judge Boyle that Gearóid Coughlan had previously been found unfit to plead to the theft charge, following the presentation of oral psychiatric evidence. Now Ms Hyland has told the court that the psychiatrist has found him fit to plea to the alcohol theft charge.

However, the much more serious charge against Gearóid Coughlan is one of attempting to murder his mother.

Ms Hyland said the psychiatrist who found him fit to plead to the theft charge did not address the question of whether he is fit to plead to the attempted murder charge which is before another court, the Central Criminal Court.

Ms Hyland BL said, “The psychiatrist is not in a position to give a decision on his fitness to plead to the attempted murder charge.

“It would probably be wise to have both reports before you.” 

Ms Hyland added that even if the alcohol theft case was disposed of it is anticipated that the accused would still be remanded in custody to the CMH on the more serious charge. In effect, the barrister submitted that any decision made in the circuit court was unlikely to impact on the defendant’s situation.

Case adjourned

In all those circumstances, Judge Boyle said she would adjourn the alcohol theft case until October 26 for further psychiatric evidence.

The defendant faces 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. 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. This is the case before the Central Criminal Court.

Previously, Dr Eugene 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).” 

This opinion was given last year at a time when the accused was being remanded in Cork and before his admission to the CMH.

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