Judge shocked at DPP decision to prosecute man for aiding suicide attempt

Jury directed to acquit man after hearing he and woman who had intended to take their lives together had been psychiatric patients

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin directed the jury to find the accused not guilty before thanking them for their attention to the case which, he described as “unusual and very distressing” given the prevalence of suicide in Irish society.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin directed the jury to find the accused not guilty before thanking them for their attention to the case which, he described as “unusual and very distressing” given the prevalence of suicide in Irish society.

 

A judge has criticised the decision of the DPP to prosecute a young man with a history of mental health issues for aiding and abetting a young woman in attempting to take her own life.

“I know the DPP has brought this case [but] someone somewhere would want to ask - ‘What are we doing here?’ – this is a court of crime,” said Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin after the prosecution opened its case against the 33-year-old man at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday.

Later during legal argument in the absence of the jury after hearing that both the man and 24-year-old woman had spent separate periods receiving treatment in St Michael’s Psychiatric Ward at the Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Judge Ó Donnabháin again questioned the merit of the prosecution.

“Does the DPP realise that both of these are psychiatric patients, that they are in and out of care? … I am surprised we are here, I am, in many ways, shocked and it’s not my business to be shocked but I am,” he said before granting a defence application that it wasn’t safe to allow the case go to the jury.

The young woman had earlier told the court she had been depressed and drinking when she texted the accused. He was also depressed as his partner – who was a friend of hers – had taken his own life a short time before. She called to the man’s flat and they decided they were both going to end their lives.

They left notes and went to a quiet place locally but he ended up calling 999, he said. She was taken to hospital and recovered.

“We didn’t really think about it as it were – it was a spur of the moment kind of decision”, said the woman.

The man was later arrested by gardai and during interview, he told how he had been sitting at home drinking and had a breakdown as his partner, the young woman’s friend, had taken his own life a month earlier and it was the second time he had lost a partner to suicide in five years.

He was prosecuted on a charge of aiding and abetting the 24-year-old woman to die by suicide on October 25th, 2016, contrary to Section 2 (2) of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act 1993.

Judge Ó Donnabháin directed the jury to find the accused not guilty of the charge before thanking them for their attention to the case which, he described as “unusual and very distressing” given the prevalence of suicide in Irish society.

+ Anyone affected by this issues in this story can contact The Samaritans on Free Phone 116 126 or by text to 087-2609090.