Man not guilty of criminal damage, road offences by reason of insanity

by Gazette Reporter
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A 69-YEAR-OLD man accused of ramming his car through the front gates of Trinity College has been found not guilty of criminal damage and road traffic offences by reason of insanity.
John Farrell, of Fassaugh Road, Cabra, caused more than €33,000 worth of damage in Trinity and the city centre shortly after 6am on April 2, 2014.
The main cost of the damage went towards replacing the college’s 18th century wooden entrance gates, which were effectively destroyed when Mr Farrell smashed his Mercedes through them.
On the day, Mr Farrell said: “I’m sorry for what I done [sic]. I don’t want fame, I just want peace of mind.”
At the start of his trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Mr Farrell denied five counts of criminal damage, four counts of endangerment by driving towards people at speed, three counts of dangerous driving and two counts of failing to stop after a collision.
Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting, said Mr Farrell did not dispute any of the actions alleged against him. She said it would be up to the jury to decide on the mens rea, or mental intention, of Mr Farrell on the day.
Garda Anthony Brazil told the prosecution that security officer at Trinity, Alan Currivan, opened the front gates of Trinity at 6:15am to a van.
Mr Farrell drove a black Mercedes through the gates after the van, with music blaring loudly from his radio and the window down, and accelerated into the front square at speed.
The court heard details of Mr Farrell’s subsequent actions with his car at Trinity, culminating with Mr Farrell driving at speed towards the then closed wooden front gates. He made no impact the first time, but reversed and drove at the gates harder, breaking through on the third go and hitting a college van on the far side.
Gardai at this stage were monitoring Mr Farrell’s movements as he drove up Grafton Street Lower at speed, scattering traffic and pedestrians. He drove up Nassau Street and turned into Dawson Street, driving against the traffic up a one-way street.
Gardai arrived, and Mr Farrell was restrained, handcuffed and brought to Pearse Street Garda Station. Gardai thought Mr Farrell was heavily intoxicated, but a blood test showed zero presence of alcohol in his system.
When asked if he remembered driving into the Trinity gates, Mr Farrell said he had heard a bang and some noises but thought he was driving into his own gates at home.
Gardai asked what had motivated Mr Farrell on the day and he said: “People wouldn’t listen, I was sick of talking.”
After his arrest, Mr Farrell was assessed by a doctor who said he was “thought-disordered and lacking insight” and committed him to a psychiatric unit.
Before the jury went out, Judge Patricia Ryan reminded them that Dr Paul O’Connor, consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, gave evidence at the start of the trial that Mr Farrell was suffering from “hyper-mania” at the time of the incident.
Dr O’Connor said Mr Farrell satisfied the legal definition of insanity, in that he did not know that what he was doing was morally wrong and lacked the capacity to take on board the gravity or consequences of his actions.
Judge Ryan noted that Dr O’Connell also said Mr Farrell had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, had undergone several periods of hospitalisation, and had a history of aggression since 2004.
The jury took 42 minutes to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity on all 14 counts against Mr Farrell.

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