DPP v Alchimionek

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeBirmingham P.
Judgment Date19 February 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] IECA 49
Docket Number[218/17]
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
Date19 February 2019
BETWEEN
THE PEOPLE AT THE SUIT OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSCUTIONS
RESPONDENT
AND
DARIUS ALCHIMIONEK
APPELLANT

[2019] IECA 49

Birmingham P.

Birmingham P.

Edwards J.

McGovern J.

[218/17]

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Conviction – Manslaughter – Perverse verdict – Appellant seeking to appeal against conviction – Whether the verdict of the jury was perverse

Facts: On 28th April 2017 at Tullamore Circuit Court, following a trial, a jury returned verdicts convicting the appellant, Mr Alchimionek, of the manslaughter of Mr Gorman and of assault causing harm to his brother, Mr Gorman, on 29th December 2015. Subsequently, on 17th July 2017, the appellant was sentenced to a term of nine years imprisonment with three years suspended on the manslaughter charge and he was disqualified from holding a driving licence for a period of forty years. The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal against his conviction, contending that the verdict of the jury was perverse and against the weight of the evidence.

Held by the Court that the rejection of the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity and the return of a verdict of guilty was not supported by any evidence in the case, was against all of the evidence in the case, and in those circumstances, had to be regarded as perverse.

The Court held that the verdict of guilty must be quashed.

Appeal allowed.

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered on the 19th day of February 2019 by Birmingham P.
1

On 28th April 2017 at Tullamore Circuit Court, following a trial, a jury returned verdicts convicting the appellant of the manslaughter of John Gorman and of assault causing harm to his brother, Adam Gorman, on 29th December 2015. Subsequently, on 17th July 2017, the appellant was sentenced to a term of nine years imprisonment with three years suspended on the manslaughter charge and he was disqualified from holding a Driving Licence for a period of forty years.

2

The background to the case is to be found in a road traffic collision which occurred at Geashill, County Offaly, when a vehicle driven by the appellant was driven into collision with a vehicle being driven in the opposite direction by John Gorman and in which his brother, Adam, was travelling as a passenger in the front seat. John Gorman lost his life in this collision and his brother, Adam, sustained significant injuries including a head injury, a fractured vertebrae and a fractured wrist.

3

The trial was a brief one which concluded within one day and there was no dispute about the circumstances of the road traffic collision. The evidence established that at around lunchtime on the day in question, the appellant was driving his vehicle on a relatively straight stretch of road when suddenly and without warning, he steered his vehicle onto the opposite side of the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The driver of that vehicle was given no opportunity to avoid a head-on collision.

4

At trial, the defence contended that the appropriate verdict was one of not guilty by reason of insanity. Indeed, this proposition was not in dispute at any stage during the trial. The defence called Dr. Stephen Monks, consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital. His evidence was that the appellant was suffering from a mental disorder to the extent that the appropriate verdict was a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Dr. Monks reviewed interviews conducted by Gardaí with the appellant in the aftermath of the accident and also himself interviewed him on a number of occasions. He concluded that the appellant had a history of severe depression and that the fatal collision may itself have been a suicide attempt. His view was that in the six months prior to the incident, the appellant had developed an evolving psychosis related to a perceived threat of terrorism, this, he categorised as Schizophrenia.

5

In the interviews with Gardaí, the appellant described how, in the days leading up to the accident, he had become increasingly obsessed with the idea that Syrian refugees in Ireland were about to engage in terrorist acts against Christians and that he would become a target. He described how, at the time of the road traffic collision, he believed that he was being pursued on the road by a car containing Muslim terrorists, that they were intent on capturing and killing him and that in order to escape them, he steered his car onto the opposite side of the road.

6

The evidence of Dr. Monks was not challenged by the prosecution. Indeed, the prosecution had obtained a report from another consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Mullaney, also of the Central Mental Hospital....

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9 cases
  • The People [At the Suit of the DPP] v A.D
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 11 March 2021
    ...the verdict, the Court of Criminal Appeal has no power to interfere with it.” 10. The appellant relies on (The People) DPP v. Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49 whereby the Court of Appeal overturned the rejection by the jury of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. The Court of Appeal hel......
  • DPP v Gaizutis
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 27 April 2020
    ...People (Director of Public Prosecutions) v. O'Callaghan [2013] IECCA 46 and The People (Director of Public Prosecutions) v. Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49. The O'Callaghan case was relied on as being an example of a case in which there was a directed verdict where it was suggested that relevant......
  • DPP v M.Q.
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 19 July 2021
    ...assertion that there is a high threshold to be crossed in claims of perversity. The respondent refers to The People (DPP) v. Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49 as an example of the level of exceptionality required to be reached in order for a successful appeal on such grounds. In Alchimionek Birmin......
  • DPP v J.O'C.
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 26 January 2023
    ...People (DPP) v. Nadwodny [2015] IECA 307. The DPP further highlighted the decision of Birmingham P. in The People (DPP) v. Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49 in which the President emphasised the exceptional nature of a decision to quash a jury 44 Counsel for the appellant submitted that the eviden......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • The Role of the Jury in the Insanity Defence: People (DPP) v Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49
    • Ireland
    • Hibernian Law Journal No. 19-2020, January 2020
    • 1 January 2020
    ...Role of the Jury in the Insanity Defence: People (DPP) v Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49 LUKE NOONAN* Introduction he modern insanity defence, developed during the nineteenth century, is the result of a balance the law attempts to strike between two objectives: not subjecting a mentally ill ofen......
  • Preliminary sections
    • Ireland
    • Hibernian Law Journal No. 19-2020, January 2020
    • 1 January 2020
    ...– Fagan v Dublin City Council Claire O’Connell 110 CASE NOTES he Role of the Jury in the Insanity Defence: People (DPP) v Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49 Luke Noonan 130 ‘No Politics Please, We’re British’: R (Miller) v he Prime Minister; Cherry and Others v Advocate General for Scotland [2019] ......

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