Man who stabbed mother's partner in the neck handed jail term

Jonathan Reid (28) was originally charged with the attempted murder of Greg Shiels at the family home at Newhall, Naas, Co Kildare on March 6th, 2020
Man who stabbed mother's partner in the neck handed jail term

Alison O’Riordan

A man who stabbed his mother's partner in the neck during a drug-induced psychosis has been jailed for four and a half years for causing him serious harm during an "unprovoked and extremely violent attack".

Jonathan Reid (28) was originally charged with the attempted murder of Greg Shiels at the family home at Newhall, Naas, Co Kildare on March 6th, 2020.

When he pleaded guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Mr Shiels, and to possession of cocaine and cannabis, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) agreed to drop the attempted murder charge.

At a previous sentencing hearing, a letter written by Reid's mother was referred to in court in which she asked for her son to be given a second chance. She added that Mr Shiels fully supports him in his struggles with his mental health.

The court heard Reid has a history of mental health problems, but when he attacked Mr Shiels he was in a drug-induced psychosis.

The court was previously told that The Peter McVerry Trust has offered addiction counselling to Reid upon his release from prison.

Sentencing Reid at the Central Criminal Court on Monday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said there was a very strong indication that "the main prompt" for this offence related to the accused's drug induced psychosis.

He said a positive indicator was that Reid had a willingness to engage with his problem.

Psychotic episodes

The defendant, the judge said, suffered from serious mental health issues which were related to the consumption of drugs, adding that he was treated on a number of occasions for these psychotic episodes.

On the afternoon of March 6th, Mr Justice McDermott Ms Reid was concerned about her son's behaviour and called Mr Shiels, who went to the home in an effort to assist his partner with her son.

Regarding the accused's behaviour that night, the judge said he was going in and out of his bedroom, not making any sense, and that Ms Reid and her partner had a most difficult time dealing with him and trying to get him to remain in the house.

Reid asked his mother to bring him to Dublin and she later left the house to get him cigarettes in an effort to appease and calm him. When she returned, Mr Shiels left to get them all a takeaway.

Whilst they were eating, the judge said Reid came into the kitchen, produced a knife and demanded his mother give him the keys to her car.

Mr Shiels attempted to resolve the situation, but the accused stuck him in the neck with a four-inch blade.

The victim fell to the floor and was very seriously injured, the judge said, adding that Reid then took the keys to his mother's car and left the house.

Injuries

An ambulance arrived and Mr Shiels was taken to Naas Hospital before being transferred to Tallaght Hospital for more specialised surgery. The wound was deep, the judge said, and there were injuries to the thyroid gland.

He said Reid had not demonstrated any animosity prior to this event and the assault was unprovoked. Mr Shiels was trying to calm the situation down, but Reid was getting increasingly out of control.

The judge said drugs and a lack of sleep had contributed to Reid's psychotic episode.

Mr Shiels remains in a relationship with the accused's mother and declined to submit a victim impact statement, the court heard.

"It is very clear that everyone in the case is concerned with his welfare and in stabilising his life to ensure this won't happen again," Mr Justice McDermott said.

Having regard to the gravity of the offence, the judge said the court must take into account the damage done, the level of suffering inflicted on the victim, and why the accused behaved in such a violent way in a domestic setting towards both his mother and Mr Shiels.

The court heard Reid has no relevant previous convictions.

The judge also pointed out today that the dominating feature of the case was Reid's mental state at the time of the offence and how it was brought about by the consumption of drugs.

Psychiatric care

Prior to the incident, the accused said he had been taking cocaine every night, had not slept in three days and that the delusions developed during the period of his drug use.

Mr Justice McDermott said the accused had not presented with signs of a mental illness at the time of his last assessment in September 2021 and was therefore discharged from psychiatric care.

Reid's mother, the judge said, was the subject of this "terrifying experience" and she hopes that she will be able to support her son upon his release. There must be some awareness on the accused's part between his psychotic episodes and his drug taking, he added.

The aggravating factors in the case included that it was an unprovoked and extremely violent attack and that it was a potentially life-threatening assault, which caused extreme blood loss. Reid also left the scene without offering any assistance to Mr Shiels.

The judge said Reid had inflicted a very serious injury on the victim, was highly culpable and knew drugs had an effect on his rational thinking.

Mr Justice McDermott set the headline sentence at nine years. In mitigation, the judge noted his guilty plea, his sincere remorse and that he had developed an insight into the wrongful use of drugs.

Earlier this month, Seamus Clarke SC, for Reid, said that the McVerry Trust has offered addiction counselling to Reid when he is released from prison and counsel suggested that the court could include a requirement to attend counselling when it passes sentence.

He said Reid has "done very well" in prison, has no paranoid beliefs and has no symptoms at the moment.

The judge pointed out at the time that Reid's psychosis was brought on by drug use rather than a mental disorder requiring clinical treatment.

Reid was sentenced to six years and six months in prison with the final two years suspended for a period of three years. It was backdated to when he went into custody in 2020.

Mr Justice McDermott added Reid must attend all his appointments with the Probation Services and engage with the local community-based drug addiction services.

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