29/05/2008

Cavan Man, 21, Jailed For Father's Murder

A 21-year-old Co Cavan man has been handed a life sentence for the murder of his father at their home two years ago.

Seamus Fitzgerald appeared today at the Central Criminal Court, where the jury unanimously found him guilty of murdering his father James Fitzgerald, 56, in Lisgar, Baileborough, Co Cavan on January 8, 2006. It took the jury just under four hours to reach their verdict.

During the trial, the court heard a number of psychiatrist's reports that revealed Seamus suffered Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD), which would result in "callous unconcern for the feelings of others and a disregard for social norms".

However, the jury did not accept his mental disorder was adequate to diminish his responsibility for the murder, as he still understood the difference between right and wrong.

Seamus was described as a being a "lovely child" but during the time he was studying for his junior cert, aged 15, his attitude "changed completely".

His mother told the court he started to insult people and damage cars. He also had a history of drug abuse.

Two years before the incident she wrote to Minister for Health Mary Harney asking for assistance. Ms Harney responded telling her to go back to the health board.

On the night of the murder, he had been watching television and had drunk four cans of beer.

The court heard Seamus strangled his father with a telephone flex as he slept in a chair, when he would not give him money to buy a car.

Alex Owens SC, prosecuting, said the family wished for the 21-year-old to receive treatment, believing it would be of assistance "because they're concerned that he's quite dangerous".

Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins, when handing down the life sentence, said he would "recommend wholeheartedly that any appropriate treatment will be made available".

(JM)

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