Motorist found guilty of manslaughter sent to Central Mental hospital

Court of Appeal found jury verdict was ‘perverse’

The three-judge court heard on Thursday from Dr Paul O’Connell, consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, who assessed Dariusz Alchimionek in recent days. File photograph: James Flynn/APX

The three-judge court heard on Thursday from Dr Paul O’Connell, consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, who assessed Dariusz Alchimionek in recent days. File photograph: James Flynn/APX

 

A motorist found guilty of manslaughter, despite unanimous expert opinion that he was legally insane, has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital as in inpatient after his jury verdict was declared “perverse” by the Court of Appeal.

Polish national Dariusz Alchimionek (44), with an address at Barrow Way, Spa Street, Portarlington, Co Laois, had denied the manslaughter of John Gorman (19) and assault causing harm to his brother, Adam, on December 29th, 2015.

The brothers had been returning home from Tullamore when a vehicle driven by Alchimionek suddenly crossed the road into the path of their oncoming car at Ballycrystal, Geashill, Co Offaly.

Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court heard how Alchimionek had become convinced the Islamic State group, or Isis, were about to invade Europe and a third World War was about to begin.

Consultant psychiatrists for both the prosecution and the defence, both of whom worked at the Central Mental Hospital, agreed that Alchimionek met the criteria to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury had the option of returning of three verdicts: guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.

The trial judge told the jury: “In light of the medical evidence, it would seem to me that you have no option but to accept . . . the defence of not guilty by reason of insanity is available to the accused, and in such circumstances, you are obliged to acquit.”

Weight of evidence

After two hours and 50 minutes of deliberations the jury returned majority guilty verdicts of 11-1 on both counts, which were met with applause in the courtroom.

Alchimionek was then sentenced to nine years imprisonment with the final three suspended by Judge Keenan Johnson in October 2017.

The Court of Appeal quashed the jury verdict last week on grounds it was “perverse” and against the weight of the evidence.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the quashing of a jury’s verdict because it was perverse was “very exceptional” but the court felt “compelled to do so” in this case.

The three-judge court heard on Thursday from Dr Paul O’Connell, consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, who assessed Mr Alchimionek in recent days.

Dr O’Connell told the court that in his opinion, Mr Alchimionek warranted continued detention as an inpatient at the CMH.

On foot of the assessment, the court committed Mr Alchimionek to the CMH.

Mr Justice Birmingham said it was a “traumatic case” and a “terrible tragedy” that must not be easy for anyone to cope with.

Last week, Mr Justice Birmingham said the court was “very conscious” of the impact the terrible tragedy had on the family of the deceased.

However, he said it was “never in controversy” that Mr Alchimionek was in fact insane at the time of the incident and, if the court directed a retrial, it seemed “inevitable the evidence would be the same”.

If another jury was to reject the unanimous expert evidence a second time, he said the Court of Appeal would “very likely” find itself dealing with another perverse verdict.

On the other hand, if another jury in a retrial acted on foot of the unanimous expert evidence, then the verdict would be the same as the Court of Appeal could enter now.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Brian McGovern, said “prolonging matters towards an inevitable conclusion” by directing a retrial “would not be in the public interest”.

Counsel for Mr Alchimionek, Kenneth Fogarty SC, along with Niall Flynn BL, said a retrial was an “unnecessary exercise”.