De Rossa feared being killed, court told

 

A JURY is being asked to decide if a 46-year-old man was insane when he assaulted his father in their Dublin home.

The former Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa had just returned home from the inauguration of President Michael D Higgins when Fearghal De Rossa started his attack. Mr De Rossa snr was in hospital for six days and required surgery to his forearm.

A passing taxi driver who helped stop the attack told gardaí he believed the accused was trying to kill his father.

Fearghal De Rossa, Old Finglas Road, Glasnevin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to the now 72-year-old man at their home on November 11th, 2011.

The court heard Mr De Rossa jnr suffers from paranoia and has spent time in the Central Mental Hospital. Tara Burns, prosecuting, told the jurors they will have to decide under the Criminal Law Insanity Act 2010 whether the accused was insane at the time of the attack.

She said the burden of proving insanity rests on the defence and that they will produce expert witnesses who will testify to the accused’s mental state.

Mr De Rossa snr was in court but his evidence was read out by Ms Burns. He said he had just come back from the inauguration and went into his home office to use the computer. He said Mr De Rossa jnr came in and unplugged the computer before taking it into his room. When his father went to retrieve it Mr De Rossa jnr grabbed the hard drive and threw it over the bannister, smashing it.

He said his son then calmly told him, “I’m going to kill you” before starting to punch him the face.

“Don’t do this, Fearghal, I’m your dad,” Mr De Rossa said. “I’ve never done anything to you.”

The assault continued and Mr De Rossa said at this point his son showed “real anger” for the first time. Mr De Rossa said his son kept punching him deliberately and “almost calmly” in the same place. Mr De Rossa managed to run outside but his son caught him and the attack resumed.

“I believed I was going be killed by my son and that he would spend the rest of his days in prison and I thought how terrible that would be,” he said in his statement.

He said he remembered a passerby intervening but that his son then returned with a shovel and continued attacking him. Mr De Rossa said this wasn’t painful because “I believe my body was in shock.” An ambulance was passing by at the time. Paramedic David English made a statement that he and others restrained Mr De Rossa jnr before he treated the victim.

Gerard Murphy, a taxi driver, said he saw the accused lift the shovel above his head and bring it down full force on Mr De Rossa. “He was definitely trying to kill him,” Mr Murphy said. “If nobody had been there, he wouldn’t have stopped.”

Garda Ciaran O’Muirthile told Mark Lynam, defending, gardaí had expressed concerns that the accused was mentally unwell when he was first charged. The garda agreed he had been remanded to the Central Mental Hospital and was unable to appear at several court dates because he was unwell.

The trial continues before Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of three men and nine women. It is expected to conclude tomorrow.