Judge rules Limerick robbery accused is unfit to be tried

Judge Tom O’Donnell ruled the defendant is unfit to stand trial

Judge Tom O’Donnell ruled the defendant is unfit to stand trial

A MAN who is accused of robbing €200 from a jewellery store in Limerick city has been declared unfit to stand trial.

It is alleged the 30-year-old defendant threatened a female member of staff with a large knife after he entered a premises in the city centre on March 10, last. 

At Limerick Circuit Court, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist Anthony Kearns, who is attached to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin, said he had examined the defendant a number of times after concerns were expressed about his mental health and his ability to enter a plea.

He said the accused man suffers from a Schizo defective disorder and that he also has an intellectual disability. He added he has an IQ which places him the lowest percentile in the country.

Dr Kearns told Mark Nicholas SC, defending, he found the defendant “to be very incoherent” and that he was not able to consider the charges “in any reasonable way” when he examined him.

The witness said he did not believe the defendant is capable of instructing his legal advisers or of following court proceedings.

When asked by Mr Nicholas, Dr Kearns agreed the accused man’s problems are ‘chronic’ and are compounded by his use of illicit drugs.

He said he did not believe that detaining him at the Central Mental Hospital was an option as it would not be “an effective use of resources”.

He added that it would not be “of benefit to him”. 

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told the defendant’s illnesses can be treated with regular medication but Dr Kearns said he did not believe he would attend any outpatient appointments to receive his medication.

While not disputing the medical evidence, John O’Sullivan BL prosecuting, pointed out that suffering from a mental disorder does not, in itself, preclude someone from going on trial.

Having considered the evidence of Dr Kearns, Judge O’Donnell said he was satisfied the defendant is unfit to be tried.

The matter was adjourned for review to allow the judge to consider what action to take.

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