Man to be sentenced for knife attack on parents after taking cocaine

Conor Dreelan (25), also known as Conor Dignam, of Snowdrop Walk, Darndale, had been charged with the attempted murder of his mother and his stepfather
Man to be sentenced for knife attack on parents after taking cocaine

Natasha Reid

A mother in a "normal, loving family" has described waking up to find her 25-year-old son stabbing his step-father in an attack which left them both hospitalised for weeks.

In their victim impact reports, both parents said they knew that it wasn’t really their son who had carried out the attack. They said they missed their son, whom the Central Criminal Court heard has since received a diagnosis of an acute psychotic episode secondary to drug consumption, and are waiting for him to come home.

The father-of-one had pleaded guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the couple at the family home in Dublin. He had taken 2g of cocaine the previous day.

Conor Dreelan (25), also known as Conor Dignam, of Snowdrop Walk, Darndale, had been charged with the attempted murder of his mother, Phyllis Dreelan and his stepfather, David Dignam, at Snowdrop Walk on June 13th, 2020.

However, the charge was dropped when he pleaded guilty to two counts of causing serious harm on that date.

D Gda Niall Gibbs told Michael Bowman SC, for the DPP, that Ms Dreelan and her partner were asleep in a downstairs room about 7.20am that day. Their three children, including the accused, were also at home.

'Mammy's boy'

Ms Dreelan had explained that she was full-time mum and described the accused as ‘a Mammy’s boy’, who looked out for his younger siblings. Theirs was a normal, loving family, she said.

However, she had observed a change in the defendant’s mood over the past couple of months.

“He’d get paid on a Thursday and his money would be gone,” she said.

She said she knew that he was using it on drugs, but she just let it slide.

That night, she was awoken by a strange noise.

“I can see Conor standing over David. I could see something in his right hand. He was stabbing David. I said, please Conor, it’s your Dad,” she recalled.

She said that her partner had woken and said the same, but that their son didn’t react.

“Then he turned to me,” she continued, describing a pain in her side.

“I looked at Conor. There was nothing there,” she said. “It was blank. It wasn’t Conor.”

She said that he returned to stabbing her partner who was now standing.

“He stabs me again,” she had said.

Screaming

She said that her daughter arrived downstairs and began screaming at her brother.

“I’m lying on the couch,” continued Ms Dreelan. “He picks me up and says he loves me and he’s sorry. He puts me back on the couch and I’m frozen.”

Medical reports stated that Phyllis Dreelan had knife wounds to her neck, chest, and upper arm. Photo: Collins Courts

Mr Dignam also described being attacked. “I saw it was my son, Conor, who was stabbing me,” he recalled. “It was the stab in my eye that made me jump up. He managed to escape to the house of a neighbour, who raised the alarm.

Meanwhile, the defendant made his way to his girlfriend’s house and told her mother what he had done. He said that only when his sister started screaming at him to stop did he come to realise what had happened.

He was in a distressed state when he later told gardai that there must be something wrong with him for the ‘scumbag, psychopath stuff I did’.

He said he had taken 2g of cocaine the previous day. He had a difficulty explaining what had happened and described himself as being like a robot.

Medical reports

Medical reports stated that Phyllis Dreelan had knife wounds to her neck, chest, and upper arm. She was in hospital for two weeks. David Dignam, who was unconscious on arrival at hospital, had multiple deep stab wounds to his body. He was admitted to intensive care and released from hospital on 1st July 2020.

In their victim impact reports, both parents said they knew that it wasn’t really their son who had carried out the attack. They said they missed him and were waiting for him to come home.

His mother entered the witness box to deliver her statement.

“Now I realise that Conor was suffering,” she said. “I think if I had got him help sooner, this might have never happened. We don’t have our son with us and his son doesn’t have his father.”

Mr Bowman said that the couple were at their most vulnerable when attacked, asleep in their home.

Patrick Gageby SC, defending with John Griffin BL, said his client had since received a diagnosis of an acute psychotic episode secondary to drug consumption.

He read out a letter of apology from Dreelan and handed in testimonials from a number of family members.

Mr Justice Michael White will pass sentence in September.

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