Airport incident man was insane, court told


A MAN who threatened a garda at knifepoint, stole a Garda vehicle and later drove dangerously around an airport apron almost hitting a plane was insane at the time, a clinical forensic psychiatrist told a court yesterday.

Defence witness Dr Paul O’Connell said Edmond Stapleton was in a manic and psychotic state when he embarked on a series of events beginning with an assault on Garda Michael Bohane and the theft of his Garda vehicle in Cork city centre in May 2011.

Mr Stapleton later drove to Cork Airport, where he drove on to the apron, hijacked an airport fire service vehicle, rammed an unmarked Garda car and narrowly missed a plane before he was subdued by gardaí using stun guns.

Mr Stapleton (38), a native of Kilbarry Cottages in Dublin Hill, Cork, but currently of no fixed abode, denies 12 charges relating to the events in Cork city centre and Cork Airport on the afternoon of May 22nd, 2011.

Yesterday Dr O’Connell told the third day of the trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he believed Mr Stapleton was not sane at the time of the incidents but was suffering from a bipolar affective disorder.

“Mr Stapleton was in a manic and psychotic state of mind . . . his account describes his actions as being grounded in a delusion that he had to sacrifice himself in order to make a political protest.”

It was his belief that Mr Stapleton’s psychosis was such that he neither knew what he was doing was wrong nor could he stop himself from doing it, and as such he met two of the criteria to be deemed insane under the Criminal Law Insanity Act, 2006.

The jury heard that on his admission to the Central Mental Hospital on May 24th, 2011, Mr Stapleton said the Government’s actions in relation to the International Monetary Fund and the sale of Coillte forests were “prostituting this country”, and he was angry the Government would not sell him a forest as a taxpayer.

Mr Stapleton likened Irish people to “sheep saying ‘bah’” to the Government, and he compared ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Snowball and Micheál Martin to Napoleon from Animal Farm.

The trial also heard Mr Stapleton, who served in the Irish Naval Service from 1992 to 1996, had begun taking cannabis when he was 18, and had also taken LSD and ecstasy and cocaine but had stopped taking these class-A drugs after a near fatal cocaine overdose three years ago. The case continues next Wednesday.