Limerick gardai seek ban for fatal crash driver

Hans Schnottalla has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital

Hans Schnottalla has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital

A GERMAN man who drove at speed into an oncoming car killing the elderly driver in Limerick has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital.

Hans Schnottalla, aged 50, who has an address at Ballycarney, Clarina was last month found not guilty by reason of insanity of dangerous driving causing the death of Patrick ‘Sonny’ O’Reilly almost three years ago.

The fatal collision happened shortly before 9am on February 24, 2015 - minutes after Mr O’Reilly had dropped two of his grandchildren to Ballybrown National School.

The 73-year-old, a native of Ferrybridge, was returning home when his Ford Focus was struck by a Skoda Yeti being driven by Mr Schnottalla. 

Following his arrest, the married father-of-one was taken to University Hospital Limerick where he was assessed by a psychiatrist and involuntarily detained at Unit 5B for a number of days.

During the three day trial Dr Paul O’Connell, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, said having assessed the defendant last year he was satisfied he suffers from a chronic mental disorder - namely Paranoid schizophrenia.

He said Mr Schnottalla was not adhering to his medication regime and that he believed he had suffered an acute psychotic breakdown around the time of the incident.

“In particular he described having a belief that he was being persecuted by what he called an entity which be believed wished to possess him and take over his body and then somehow this was connected to the idea that he was Jesus or that other people thought he was,” he said.

Following the special verdict, which was one of the first of its kind in Ireland, Mr Schnottalla was detained at the CMH for further assessment.

Having considered an up-to-date report, Judge Tom O’Donnell directed he be committed to the Central Mental Hospital under the provisions of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act.

John O’Sullivan BL informed the court that gardai will make an application in the district court in the near future to have the defendant disqualified from driving.

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