Man committed to Central Mental Hospital after insanity verdict
Richard McLaughlin (32) beat neighbour to death with crowbar in Sligo in February 2018
A man who beat his neighbour to death with a crowbar after breaking into his home has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) having been found not guilty of his murder by reason of insanity. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.
A man who beat his neighbour to death with a crowbar after breaking into his home has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) having been found not guilty of his murder by reason of insanity.
The verdict was returned in the case of Richard McLaughlin (32), with an address at The Laurels, Woodtown Lodge, Sligo, who killed Jimmy ‘James’ Loughlin (20) at Connolly Street in Sligo on February 24th, 2018.
The court heard that Mr McLaughlin broke down the door of Mr Loughlin’s home at 1.18pm and attacked him while suffering from delusions brought on by paranoid schizophrenia.
Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said the deceased died from traumatic head injuries sustained during an assault.
The parents of the deceased told the Central Criminal Court last week that it was “unacceptable” that someone so dangerous and known to mental health services was living just a few doors from their “defenceless” son. They said their son had never had any contact with Mr McLaughlin before the incident.
It emerged during the trial that a psychiatrist previously had concerns that Mr McLaughlin was at risk of murdering someone due to his delusional beliefs.
Prosecution counsel Fiona Murphy SC on Tuesday called Dr Sally Linehan, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the CMH to report on Mr McLaughlin’s condition.
Dr Linehan said she had been responsible for Mr McLaughlin’s care at the hospital since August 7th last and had prepared a report in order to advise the court on whether he was suffering from a mental disorder and in need of inpatient treatment in a designated centre.
The witness said she assessed Mr McLaughlin on July 11th for the purposes of preparing a report and the defendant had consented to the assessment.
Dr Linehan said Mr McLaughlin was first admitted to the CMH on June 22nd, 2018 and had presented with clear evidence of a psychiatric illness and suffered with delusions at the time.
“He continued his medication following his admission but it did not have the adequate response so he commenced on Olanzapine,” she said.
Dr Linehan said the defendant has been compliant with his individual treatment plan and has begun to develop an insight into his mental illness.
The witness said she assessed Mr McLaughlin on July 11 and did not find evidence of a mood disorder and he denied felling depressed.
“He continues to express delusional beliefs concerning cloning but denied experiencing hallucinations,” she said.
He suffers from schizophrenia and is in need of inpatient care and treatment in a designated centre, said Dr Linehan, adding that he is in the early stages of rehabilitation. His condition will be reviewed by the Mental Health Review Board on a six-month basis, she said.
Dr Linehan recommended to the court that the defendant be committed to the CMH and she confirmed that there was a bed available for him and staff were present in court to escort him to Dundrum.
The witness agreed with Ms Murphy that it is envisaged that Mr McLaughlin’s detention in the CMH will be lengthy.
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said the court was in “no doubt” that Mr McLaughlin is suffering from a mental disorder having heard evidence two consultant psychiatrists last week and from Dr Linehan on Tuesday.
The judge reiterated her condolences to the Loughlin family.