DPP v O'Mahony

CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date01 January 1986
Neutral Citation1985 WJSC-SC 1119
Docket Number[S.C. No. 201 of 1982]
Date01 January 1986

1985 WJSC-SC 1119


Finlay C.J.

Walsh J.

Griffin J.

Hederman J.

McCarthy J.







R V BYRNE 1960 2 QB 396, 1960 3 WLR 440





Diminished responsibility - Murder - Trial on indictment in Central Criminal Court - Conviction - Refusal of trial judge to leave to jury the question of alleged diminished responsibility of accused - Conviction upheld on appeal by accused to Supreme Court - (201/82 - Supreme Court - 4/7/85).

The People v. O'Mahony


JUDGEMENT delivered on the 4th day of July 1985 by FINLAY C.J. [Nem Diss]


This is an appeal brought by the accused against his conviction for murder in the Central Criminal Court following a trial by jury presided over by Costello J. It is an appeal brought by the accused direct to the Supreme Court.


On the 13th July 1982 the Appellant was convicted of the murder of Michael Casey, on a date unknown, between the 15th November 1981 and the 18th November 1981, in the County of Cork.


The only ground of appeal argued before this Court was that the learned trial Judge had erred in law in refusing to permit the jury to consider what was stated to be a defence of diminished responsibility and on that basis to consider the alternative of entering a verdict of manslaughter instead of a verdict of murder.


The formula urged by Mr. Mackey on behalf of the Appellant as constituting a definition of the defence of diminished responsibility which, he submitted, was part of Irish law is that contained in the recommendation of the Report of the Committee on Mentally Abnormal Offenders in England in 1975 incorporating a definition of mental disorder contained in an English statute, being the Mental Health Act 1959, and was in the following form:

"Where a person kills or is party to the killing of another he shall not be convicted of murder if there is medical or other evidence that he was suffering from a form of mental disorder consisting of mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychotathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of mind and if in the opinion of the jury the mental disorder was such as to be an extenuating circumstance which ought to reduce the offence to manslaughter."

The Facts

The uncontested evidence of the circumstances surrounding the killing of Michael Casey, appearing from the transcript of the trial in the Central Criminal Court, may thus be summarised. The Appellant and one Denis Callaghan went to the house of the deceased who lived on his own a short distance from the premises in which the Appellant resided, outside Skibbereen, shortly after 11 p.m. on Sunday night, the 15th November 1981. The Appellant and the deceased were well known to each other and the Appellant and Callaghan gained entry to the house by pretending that the Appellant's uncle had died and that they required to use the telephone to gain assistance.


Having gained entry, the Appellant and Callaghan, after a struggle, eventually strangled the deceased with straps or belts which they had brought with them. They then searched the house and obtained some £200 or so in money and also a bottle of whiskey which they took with them. They also obtained a bank book. They remained for some time in the house drinking some of the whiskey which was there and left around 7 o'clock in the morning. The Appellant then started the deceased's car which was parked outside, drove it a short distance but abandoned it further down the lane from the house to the road for fear of being observed in it. The Appellant and Callaghan then went separately home and the deceased was not found until the following Wednesday.


Two different accounts of his part in this killing were in evidence before the jury from the Appellant. The first in time was a lengthy written statement made by him on the 22nd November 1981 to members of the Gardai at Skibbereen Garda Station. In that he described meeting Callaghan in a public house in Skibbereen on the evening of the 15th November and planning the raid on Casey's house in order to obtain money. He stated that it was in the public house that they decided to kill Michael Casey because they did not want him to report it to the guards that they had robbed him. He gave an account of bringing with him a strap off his motor bicycle by which he and Callaghan had travelled to Casey's house in case a strap being carried by Callaghan would not suffice for the strangling. He then gave a detailed description of the killing of Michael Casey in which his part was to hold him whilst Callaghan carried out the actual strangling, attempting it first with the strap he had brought and finally completing it with the strap brought by the Appellant. The second account was an account of the killing given by the Appellant in evidence at the trial. He there stated that he made the arrangement to go and rob Michael Casey in the public house in Skibbereen but that it was his intention at that time merely to tie him up so as to carry out the robbery, that they arrived at the house and that after some time Callaghan placed a strap around the deceased's neck and called on the Appellant to assist by holding his hands, that he, the Appellant, refused to assist, that Callaghan then produced a knife and that upon his so doing the Appellant, out of fear, took part in the final killing and the deceased was strangled.


Evidence was also given by the Appellant, and by an uncle of the Appellant, of his background and upbringing, indicating that he had been left an orphan at a relatively...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • DPP v Redmond
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 6 April 2006
    ...of incident - Whether motive of accused in pleading relevant -Whether abuse of process to accept guilty plea - People (DPP) v O'Mahony [1985] IR517, People (AG) v Messitt [1972] IR 204, AG v O'Brien [1936] IR 263 and Bratty v AG for Northern Ireland [1963] AC 386 considered - Held that tri......
  • DPP v Heffernan
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 21 December 2015
    ...and there is a long line of authority supporting this conclusion.”’ 33 In The People (Director of Public Prosecutions) v. O'Mahony [1985] I.R. 517, which predated the enactment of the Act of 2006 by more than a decade, it was held by the Supreme Court that diminished responsibility did not ......
  • DPP v Reddan
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 4 December 1995
    ...(Director of Public Prosecutions) v. Kelly (Unreported, Court of Criminal Appeal, 9th February, 1994). The People (D.P.P.) v. O'Mahony [1985] I.R. 517. R. v. McKenna [1960] 1 Q.B. 411; [1960] 2 W.L.R. 306; [1960] 1 All E.R. 326; (1960) 124 J.P. 179; 104 Sol. Jo. 109; 44 Cr. App. R. 63. Crim......
  • Re Gallagher; Gallagher v DPP
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 12 February 1991
    ...of Ellis [1990] 2 I.R. 291. Application of Neilan [1990] 2 I.R. 267. The People (Director of Public Prosecutions) v. O'Mahony [1985] I.R. 517; [1986] I.L.R.M. 245. R. v. Hatfield [1800] 27 State Tr. 1282. The State (C.) v. Minister for Justice [1967] I.R. 106; (1967) 102 I.L.T.R. 177. The S......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Role of the Jury in the Insanity Defence: People (DPP) v Alchimionek [2019] IECA 49
    • Ireland
    • Hibernian Law Journal Nbr. 19-2020, January 2020
    • 1 January 2020
    ...29 People (Attorney General) v Boylan [1937] IR 449, 457–458 (Sullivan CJ), conirmed by the Supreme Court in People (DPP) v O’Mahony [1985] IR 517, 522 (Finlay CJ); People (DPP) v Smyth [2010] 3 IR 688 [14] (Charleton J). 30 Woolmington v DPP [1935] AC 462 31 Daniel M’Naghten’s Case (1843) ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT