Christina Anderson believed she was “under threat from her neighbours”, days before she stabbed a man to death in her housing estate, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
Mother-of-three Christina Anderson (41) of Brownsbarn Wood, Kingswood, Dublin 24, is charged with murdering Gareth Kelly (39), who died from stab wounds following an incident at the estate on the morning of February 25, 2020. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Opening the trial last week Mr McGrath said there is no dispute that Ms Anderson stabbed the deceased and caused his death. The issue for the jury to decide will be her mental state at the time.
Gda Barry O’Shea said that he began door-to-door enquiries immediately after arriving at the scene where Gareth Kelly had been stabbed to death in the car park of a south Dublin housing estate. Ms Anderson’s husband Mark Anderson answered the door and invited gardaí inside. Ms Anderson was feeding fruit to her child and told gardaí that she had not been out that morning and did not know about the injured man outside.
Gda O’Shea told prosecution counsel Patrick McGrath SC: “Upon entering, everything appeared normal, she was preparing food for her child and there was nothing out of the ordinary.” As Ms Anderson spoke, the garda noticed she was becoming “more agitated and distressed” and anxious.
Gda O’Shea cautioned Ms Anderson and then heard her say to her husband: “I did it for us Mark. I did it for love. One of us is insane, Mark.”
Mr Anderson asked his wife, “did you hurt someone?” and told gardaí that the previous night she “thought she was a goddess and a politician”.
Ms Anderson told her husband: “I was protecting you by not saying anything.” When Gda O’Shea asked Ms Anderson what happened that morning, she described how her alarm had gone off and when she couldn’t turn it off she “tore it off the wall”. Gda O’Shea then noticed that the washing machine was on and Ms Anderson told him that she had switched it on. Gda O’Shea told his sergeant about the conversation with Ms Anderson and the sergeant came and arrested her.
Under cross-examination Gda O’Shea told Michael O’Higgins SC, for Ms Anderson, that before going to Ms Anderson’s home, her neighbours Joe and Caroline Howell had suggested to him that Ms Anderson might have been involved in the stabbing. He said that he noticed Ms Anderson was breathing heavily, gave short answers and did not look him in the eye.
The witness also agreed that within minutes of being brought to Mountjoy Women’s Prison Ms Anderson was transferred to the Central Mental Hospital.
Caroline Howell told Mr McGrath that she was looking out her bedroom window that morning when she saw a car parked in a parking space belonging to Ms Anderson. She went back to bed but then heard a loud bang and looked out again. She saw Ms Anderson approach the car wearing a heavy dressing gown and then saw the man falling between two cars. She said: “She appeared to be panicked, ran back into the house frantically and reappeared with a knife, like a kitchen knife, a big one.”
She said she saw Ms Anderson “force the knife into the upper part of the man’s body” at least two or three times. She said Ms Anderson made no attempt to hide her face and then ran frantically back into her house and came back out again with what looked like a kitchen cloth.
The witness saw the accused wiping something and then saw her door slam shut. She didn’t see Ms Anderson again.
Ms Howell said that the accused “always seemed a bit different”. Four days prior to the stabbing Ms Anderson called to her home and banged on her door. She remembered Ms Anderson seemed anxious and distressed, had watery eyes and was “rambling” for about ten minutes accusing other residents of the housing estates of being criminals and of using estate management fees to buy new kitchens. She said the accused “seemed psychotic”.
Joe Howell told Mr McGrath that he looked out an upstairs window after his wife told him something was happening and he saw the deceased fall to the ground. He began filming on his mobile phone and saw Ms Anderson running from her home and picking something up next to the deceased. He thought it was a sharp object and he saw her wipe it down before running back into the house. Mr Howell also revealed that two days prior to the stabbing he received a message from Ms Anderson telling him: “Run, your lives are in danger!”
She told him that he was a “victim of crime like myself” and warned him to take his wife and child to a safe place. Mr Howell told David Perry BL, for the defence, that he had been Ms Anderson’s neighbour for about four years and did not know her well.
The WhatsApp message telling him to take his wife and child to a safe place were the first phone messages he had ever received from her and they came as a surprise and a shock. He went to a garda who lived nearby to ask for advice.
Deirdre Kelleher told Mr Perry that she had known the accused for more than 25 years and they were close in their teens and 20s.
She described Ms Anderson as “a very creative, intelligent person” who was good at learning new things. She could speak Finnish, was good at art and massage and was “doing an amazing job” of home schooling her children.
She knew that Ms Anderson had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and when she saw Ms Anderson five days before the stabbing she found her to be “a little high, lots of energy and chatty”.
But she seemed happy and there was “nothing out of the ordinary” until Ms Anderson began speaking about disputes she was having with others in the housing estate. She said she was taking legal action or a defamation case against one neighbour. The witness said: “At that point it became a little harder to follow. There was a lot about criminal activity with neighbours, cover-up of people not paying fees, stuff like that, small scale stuff.” Ms Anderson told the witness she was putting together evidence about a “nest of criminals”.
Ms Kelleher said that the things she was saying may have happened but Ms Anderson’s interpretation “wasn’t rooted in reality”. She believed she was “under threat from her neighbours” and that there were criminals in the estate trying to drive out non-criminals. After that, she said the conversation went back to normal.
The witness also agreed with Mr Perry that Ms Anderson was focused on exposing those responsible and bringing them to justice through legal means. She was “not speaking in violent terms, there was nothing like that”, she said.
State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan told Mr McGrath that the deceased suffered five stab wounds to the chest and neck area. Two of the wounds were potentially fatal and the cause of death was multiple stab wounds with no other contributing factors.
The trial continues in front of Ms Justice Karen O’Connor and a jury of seven men and five women.