Man accused of murdering brother and attempting to murder father found not guilty by reason of insanity

John Murphy jnr (43) stabbed brother Shane Murphy (27) as Shane tried to protect their father, court hears

A jury has found a 43-year-old man accused of murdering his brother and attempting to murder his father not guilty by reason of insanity.

John Murphy jnr of Seaview Avenue, Carrigaline, Cork, denied the murder of his younger brother Shane (27) and the attempted murder of his then 75-year-old father, John Aloysius “Weeshie” Murphy, at the family home on Saturday, March 26th, 2022.

Earlier this week, the jury of seven men and five women in Cork heard evidence from investigating officer Det Gda Ian Breen about how Shane Murphy was fatally wounded and how his father, John Murphy snr, was injured in a knife attack by the accused.

“In the early hours, Weeshie was in bed at home at Seaview Avenue watching golf on TV. At 2.50am the accused, John Murphy [jnr], entered Weeshie’s bedroom. For no reason he made a request for his father to go into the neighbour’s house,” Det Garda Breen said.


“He started to get dressed but John [jnr] pushed him on the bed and began strangling him. He pleaded with him to stop, and he called for his son [Shane] to help. Shane pulled John [jnr] off his father. This allowed John to get out. Shane screamed he had been stabbed and to get an ambulance.”

Shane Murphy was selflessly trying to protect his father from John Murphy jnr, who followed their father out of the house and stabbed him a number of times before returning to the property where he continued to assault Shane, stabbing him repeatedly, Det Garda Breen said.

A neighbour heard Shane screaming “Please stop, I will do whatever you want”, Det Garda Breen said, adding that Shane rang 999 on his mobile phone at 3.11am in a distressing call which lasted for 34 minutes and 26 seconds and was recorded as he pleaded for his life.

“He [Shane] is terrified and retreating. He begs John [jnr] to stop ... During this call it is believed Shane died,” Det Garda Breen said. The court heard Shane suffered nine stab wounds in the attack, including one fatal wound through the heart and one described as potentially fatal through the left lung.

John Murphy snr, after suffering serious stab wounds, walked out of the estate and flagged down a taxi driver who brought him to Cork University Hospital where he spent 10 days being treated for his injuries.

Gardaí recovered an 18cm blade broken from the handle at the scene. CCTV footage showed John Murphy jnr concealing a bag containing clothes in a garden compost heap in the area. The clothing was stained with the blood of his brother and his father.

John Murphy jnr walked around Carrigaline before calling to a friend. The court heard he told his friend that his father and brother fought each other, and that he intervened but they were both dead. John Murphy jnr asked to be driven to a relative in Passage West, arriving there at 7am, but the relative did not open the door to him.

Gardaí located John Murphy jnr in Passage West where he was arrested and brought to Gurranebraher Garda station. John Murphy jnr blamed his father and brother for attacking him and went on a rant about politicians, lawyers and gardaí, while he also sang songs, Det Garda Breen said.

“He continuously accused gardaí of manipulating airwaves in the interview room,” Det Garda Breen said. The meaning of this was never established but he did admit that he tried to choke his father and that he stabbed his brother six or seven times, mainly in the torso area.

John Murphy jnr made a series of allegations against several members of his family, all of which gardaí believed were without any basis. These included allegations that his life was being threatened and that the freezer had been defrosted so his body could be put there after he was killed.

The court heard John Murphy jnr admitted placing the knife beside Shane Murphy’s body in the bedroom in an attempt to cover his tracks.

Det Garda Breen agreed with defence counsel, Tom Creed SC, that his client went from being lucid to agitated. John Murphy jnr said the assaults were the last chance to get the truth before adding: “Shane said sorry to me. Maybe he should not have died, maybe he should have killed me.”

The jury heard evidence from clinical psychiatrists Dr Stephen Monks, for the defence, and Dr Jamie Walsh, for the prosecution. The court heard that John Murphy jnr had a history of cannabis use and mental illness and that he was not sane at the time that he attacked his brother and father.

Dr Monks said that John Murphy jnr was in an acute psychotic state as a result of schizophrenic illness at the time, that his judgment was significantly impaired, and he was suffering delusions and hallucinations and had lost touch with reality.

Dr Walsh concurred, saying he believed John Murphy jnr was suffering from persecutory delusional beliefs about his family and was paranoid that the State were following him. The court heard John Murphy jnr was also convinced he was the victim of airwave manipulation and that his thoughts were being controlled.

Such was the severity of John Murphy jnr’s psychotic episode that he believed he was acting in self-defence when he attacked his brother and his father, and he was unable to refrain from acting as he did, the court heard.

The jury took one hour and 43 minutes to return with a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity on the murder and the attempted murder charges, as well as two ancillary charges of production of a knife on the night in question.

Ms Justice Siobhán Lankford thanked the jury for their deliberations, describing the trial as a sad and emotive case. Prosecuting counsel, Jane Hyland SC, made an application under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 to have John Murphy jnr remanded to the Central Mental Hospital.

She said he could then be medically examined at the Central Mental Hospital to ascertain his present condition and a report could be prepared. Mr Creed agreed that was the appropriate application and the judge adjourned the matter until May 7th.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times