Man who murdered his mother sentenced to life imprisonment

‘I did not intend to kill her, I intended to set her free,’ says Paul Horgan (27)

Paul Horgan (27) who has been jailed for life for the murder of his mother in Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney

Paul Horgan (27) who has been jailed for life for the murder of his mother in Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney


A 27-year-old IT student has been sentenced to life imprisonment after a jury unanimously found him guilty of the murder of his mother.

He stabbed her to death at their family home in Cork city after staying up all night drinking two bottles of wine and watching TV.

Paul Horgan denied the murder of his mother Marian (60) at their family home at Murmont Avenue in Montenotte, Cork on November 24th, 2015. The jury of nine men and three women took just an hour and four minutes to find him guilty at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.

The trial had heard evidence from Horgan’s father, Bill (71), who told how his son had attention deficit disorder in school but did not get into any difficulties there and never showed any signs of violence before that morning.

Mr Horgan said he had come downstairs to find his wife stabbed.

“She was standing in the kitchen. She had her hands around her neck, a knife sticking out of her neck. She said, ‘Help me’. I put my arm around her. She fell to the floor. I said, ‘Look what you are after doing to your mother’,” said Mr Horgan.

“He didn’t say a word. He looked calm. He never said anything. He looked at me as if there was something wrong with me. He just smiled. He kept smiling. He struck me with something in the head. I ended up next to Marian on the floor. I don’t know how long I was there.”

Mr Horgan told how when he came around, his head was stinging after suffering seven wounds to the head and he managed to get up and run out the door before his son came after him, clicking the knives but he managed to knock the knife out of one hand before getting the second knife off him.

A neighbour, former Cork City FC player Fergus O’Donoghue, came to his assistance along with another man, Jim O’Sullivan, and they managed to restrain Horgan until Det Garda Mark Durcan arrived on the scene and arrested him for assaulting his mother.

Horgan told gardaí at interview that he had stayed up all night drinking two bottles of wine because he was depressed over not being able to speak to women. He said he watched TV all night but he could remember nothing of the events until he found himself in Mayfield Garda Station.

Court testimony

He took the stand to say he only began remembering bits and pieces of the events of the morning when he was in the Central Mental Hospital in December and while he accepted the evidence pointed overwhelmingly to him having stabbed his mother, he did not intend killing her.

“My thoughts about it were afterwards - I don’t know what I was thinking during it - I did not intend to kill her, I intended to set her free because life is so cruel. My own life was cruel too. I wanted to see her free, my mother did not deserve cruelty,” he said.

Horgan revealed that he similarly intended to “set his father free” before taking his own life. “I didn’t mean to kill them. It wasn’t like my thoughts were normal,” said Horgan, who was found not to have been suffering from a psychiatric disorder at the time.

Asked by prosecution counsel Tom Creed SC if when he intended “setting his mother free”, he knew it would involve killing her, Mr Horgan said he supposed he did and when Mr Creed then put it to him that he therefore intended to kill his mother, Mr Horgan replied: “I suppose, yeah”.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster told the trial that Ms Horgan suffered two stab wounds, one non-fatal to the right shoulder and one at the back left of the skull which proved fatal, going through her skull and severing her left jugular vein before impaling her tongue.

Both wounds would have required considerable force and the second one, which ended with the blade breaking and remaining embedded in Ms Horgan’s head, proved fatal with death being caused by haemorrhage and shock, said Dr Bolster.

After the jury returned their verdict, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said that Ms Horgan’s husband and her two daughters had not opted to make victim impact statements and he imposed a life sentence on Horgan who showed no emotion when the verdict was read out.