Man not guilty of murdering ‘stepdad’ by reason of insanity

Adam Nolan told hospital he felt he ‘had to kill’ Bryan Cassidy two weeks before attack

Following 27 minutes spent deliberating, the jury reached a unanimous verdict in the case of Adam Nolan  of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Following 27 minutes spent deliberating, the jury reached a unanimous verdict in the case of Adam Nolan of not guilty by reason of insanity.


A man has been found not guilty by reason of insanity of murdering his mother’s partner two weeks after being sent home from A&E, where he’d gone because he felt he “had to kill” him.

An expert told his trial that a person with homicidal ideations would be “detainable under the Mental Health Act”.

His trial had heard that the hospital notes mentioned that the then 19-year-old had a family history of mental illness. He was diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, sent home after a number of hours and advised to seek treatment for drug misuse. He took that advice but stabbed his ‘stepfather’ to death a fortnight later.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the diagnosis given at Tallaght Hospital has since been excluded and replaced with one of schizophrenia, something for which he had a genetic vulnerability.

Adam Nolan, with an address at Burgh an Ri Walk, Balgaddy, Lucan, Co Dublin was charged with murdering father-of-one Bryan Cassidy (52) on 7th February, 2018 at the same address. Mr Nolan, who turned 21 this week, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

A consultant forensic psychiatrist testified on Friday that with homicidal ideations, “really you would consider that person detainable under the Mental Health Act”. Dr Stephen Monks was giving evidence on behalf of the defence.

Tallaght hospital

He told Brendan Grehan SC that he had seen Mr Nolan’s medical notes from Tallaght Hospital, where his parents had taken him on hearing that he wanted to kill Mr Cassidy.

He was seen in the early hours of 25th January and stated that he had used illicit drugs, cocaine and ketamine, the weekend before. He tested positive for cannabis and stated that he would like to stop using drugs.

He was described in the notes as a 19-year-old male with “drug-induced psychosis”, “homicidal ideation” and a “family history of mental illness”. The notes showed a referral to addiction support services.

Dr Monks agreed with Mr Grehan that he and all the psychiatrists, who’d examined him since, had concluded that it was not “drug-induced psychosis” but “a full psychotic episode”.

“If there are homicidal ideations, really you would consider that person detainable under the Mental Health Act,” he said.

He said that it would also be difficult to conclude that the psychosis was purely from drugs in a one-off assessment.

“One would need to observe a person over time,” he explained.

He also said that a psychotic reaction when intoxicated is not a normal reaction.

“The majority of people, who receive a diagnosis of drug-induced psychosis, subsequent to that are diagnosed with schizophrenia,” he said.

Acutely psychotic

Dr Monks noted that Mr Nolan was not intoxicated by either drugs or alcohol at the time of the killing and gave the opinion that he was “acutely psychotic” at the time.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, had opened the case on Thursday.

He told the jury that Mr Cassidy was in a relationship with Mr Nolan’s mother at the time of his death. The two men got on so well that Mr Nolan used to refer to the deceased as his stepdad. This was despite Mr Nolan maintaining a relationship with his father from whom his mother had amicably separated.

He explained that both men were in the Nolan family home on the evening in question, while the accused man’s mother was babysitting elsewhere.

A neighbour noticed the deceased standing in a garden on the street around 10 o’clock that night, with the accused standing in his own doorway. It became apparent that there had been some sort of dispute and that the deceased was bleeding heavily from stab wounds.

Neighbours went to his aid, as did Mr Nolan’s mother, who was being dropped home around that time. Paramedics arrived but he couldn’t be saved.

Mr Nolan was observed in the vicinity for a time but left the scene and went to the home of a friend. He remained outside in the front garden, was covered in blood and was observed behaving erratically.

UFC champion

He was hard to understand but seemed to refer to voices giving him two options: one to kill the deceased and the other to become the first gay UFC champion. He appeared to make some references to “stabbing Bryan”.

He was collected by family members, who took him to the Garda station. He admitted that he’d stabbed Mr Cassidy and was charged with murder.

A post-mortem exam showed the cause of death to be a stab wound to the abdomen, but he had received six separate stab wounds, including one through his eye.

Mr Gillane said there were some very sad aspects to the case, including that “Mr Cassidy was a very, very nice man”, got on well with people and was “much loved by his family”. He was one of five siblings and had a daughter.

“It’s not part of the case that he ever did or said anything to provoke violence,” he explained.

Mr Nolan had no history of violence and had a circle of friends and a job. However, in the period leading up to the stabbing, he had developed a number of fixations. Some of his friends described him behaving oddly.

Mr Gillane explained that Mr Nolan went into custody after charge, was examined and transferred to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), where he remains and is being treated.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon sent the jury of six men and six women out to deliberate on a verdict on Friday afternoon. Following 27 minutes spent deliberating, they reached a unanimous verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Justice Creedon then committed Nolan to the CMH until next Thursday, when a report will be available from his treating physician.