12 Feb 2015

Man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity appeals his own acquittal

A Roscommon man acquitted of murdering his mother on mental health grounds last year has brought an appeal against his acquittal.
Paul Henry (29), who lived with his mother Ann Henry at the time, had pleaded not guilty to her murder at The Spinney, Abbeystown, Roscommon in September 2011.
A jury acquitted Henry of the murder by reason of insanity at a Castlebar sitting of the Central Criminal Court and he was sent to the Central Mental Hospital by Mr Justice Paul Carney on May 7 2014.
Henry appealed against his acquittal today in the Court of Appeal, however the three judge court queried whether it had jurisdiction to do so.
Mt Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the issue had only come to their attention moments before the court was due to sit.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Úna Ní Raifeartaigh SC, said it was a very unusual situation and she didn't think it had arisen before.
At the outset of the hearing Ms Ní Raifeartaigh said it was a jurisdictional matter, that a person only has a right to appeal when they have been convicted.
Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said once the verdict is brought in the trial judge can either acquit or commit to the Central Mental Hospital. It seemed logical, he said.
Mr Justice John Edwards said Henry was not a convicted person in respect of murder. He was liable to be detained at the discretion of the State but he didn't have a criminal record and the State had vindicated his good name.

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