Jury in Stephen Silver trial told evidence of mental illness enough to justify not guilty of murder verdict

Published date09 November 2022
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
Roisin Lacey SC, for Mr Silver's defence, in her closing speech asked the jury to consider the evidence of consultant psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright who told the trial that Mr Silver's responsibility for the shooting was diminished by a relapse of his bipolar affective disorder

Ms Lacey said there is no doubt that what happened to Gda Horkan was a "tragedy of unspeakable proportions. You know that, we know that and Mr Silver knows that. Colm Horkan was unlawfully killed, there was no legal justification for his death and by his plea, Mr Silver has accepted that and acknowledged his responsibility for that unlawful killing."

She told the jury that it is his level of culpability that is in issue and she asked them to look at the evidence of Dr Wright who said that Mr Silver was mentally unwell secondary to non-compliance with his medication.

She reminded the jury that Dr Wright said the best evidence of Mr Silver's condition was his interviews with gardaí, which began 14 hours after the shooting and were recorded on DVD.

In his first interview Dr Wright noted that Mr Silver was restless, talkative and over-familiar, engaged in inappropriate laughing and appeared elated. As the interviews continued he became irritable and agitated, expressed persecutory and delusional beliefs and by the third and fourth interviews he was becoming more erratic.

By his fifth and final interview on the second day of his detention Dr Wright described Mr Silver's behaviour as "bizarre, agitated, irritable and aggressive with evidence of grandiose delusions". Dr Wright said that a defence of diminished responsibility due to mental disorder would be appropriate given his condition at the time.

Ms Lacey said that taking Dr Wright's evidence into account "and all of the other aspects of the evidence, I suggest to you it would be highly unsafe to convict Mr Silver of capital murder, or any murder."

Mr Silver (46), a motorbike mechanic from Aughaward, Foxford, Co Mayo has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Det Garda Horkan knowing or being reckless as to whether he was a member of An Garda Siochana acting in accordance with his duty. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, at Castlerea, Co. Roscommon on June 17th, 2020.

Mr Silver accepts that he shot and killed Gda Horkan but Dr Brenda Wright, a psychiatrist called by his defence, said that the accused was suffering at the time from bipolar affective disorder, a mental illness that diminished his...

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