Man convicted over airport rampage
A man who threatened to kill a garda and went on the rampage at Cork Airport in a stolen airport police vehicle has been remanded in custody for sentence after a jury today found him guilty of some 12 offences.
Edmond Stapleton (38), a native of Kilbarry Cottages, Dublin Hill, in Cork city but currently of no fixed abode, had denied all 12 charges arising out of a series of events in Cork city centre and Cork Airport on May 22nd, 2011.
Stapleton had denied assault causing harm to Garda Michael Bohane, threatening to kill Garda Bohane, two counts of unlawfully taking Garda and airport police vehicles, five counts of criminal damage at different locations and three counts of dangerous driving.
Defence lawyers had not disputed the bulk of the prosecution evidence relating to the events at the centre of the case but had argued Stapleton was insane at the time due a manic and psychotic episode caused by bipolar affective disorder.
However, the prosecution had argued Stapleton’s actions were due to the fact that he was intoxicated, having taken cannabis in the days leading up to May 22nd, 2011, and that he was sane at the time that he went on the rampage.
The jury of nine men and three women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court took some four hours and 30 minutes to unanimously find Stapleton guilty of all 12 counts, and Judge Sean O Donnabhain remanded Stapleton in custody for sentencing next Wednesday.
Earlier in his charge to the jury, Judge O Donnabhain had outlined the options open to the jury in deliberating on the four days of evidence presented to them and pointed out they could find Stapleton guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.
Under the Criminal Law Insanity Act (2005) a person can be found not guilty by reason of insanity if they are found to suffer from a mental disorder, defined as mental illness, mental disability or dementia but not intoxication, at the time of the offence.
To avail of this defence however, the defendant must prove that the mental disorder was such that he did not know the nature and quality and the act, that the act was wrong and that his psychosis was such that he could not refrain from doing the act.
Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Paul O’Connell, for the defence, had told the court he believed Stapleton was insane at the time of his actions as he neither knew his actions were wrong nor could he refrain from engaging in those actions.
However, consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Damian Mohan, in giving rebuttal evidence for the prosecution, strongly disagreed and said he believed Stapleton both knew what he was doing was wrong and was able to refrain from doing it.
Dr Mohan pointed to the fact Stapleton cut himself with a knife at Cork Airport as a gesture of apology for earlier injuring a garda in Cork city and said this indicated that he was aware what he was doing was wrong.
He also said the fact Stapleton immediately surrendered when he was surrounded by gardaí, including one who pointed a gun at him, indicated he was able to refrain from doing what he was doing when driving around the airport.
Dr Mohan said Stapleton’s long history of drug usage from the age of 18 including his chronic usage of cocaine, but more particularly his usage of cannabis in the days right up to the events of May 22nd, 2011, precipitated his behaviour on that day.
He said a positive toxicology test from Cork University Hospital on May 22nd, 2011, for cannabis and a further positive test on May 25th, 2011, from Trinity Court in Dublin for cannabis and Benzodiazepines such as valium were significant.
"The events of May 22nd, 2011, are more likely to have been caused by acute intoxication by either cannabis or valium - they would not have occurred if he had not been intoxicated - of that I have no doubt whatsoever," said Dr Mohan.
Cross-examined by defence counsel Patrick McGrath, Dr Mohan accepted he was in a minority regarding his conclusions about Mr Stapleton as four other psychiatrists who either examined or treated Mr Stapleton concluded he was suffering from psychosis at the time.