Murder accused who killed neighbour with machete ‘not feigning’ when he said he was Moses, court hears

Accused allegedly sought psychiatric treatment day before killing but was turned away due to Covid restrictions

A consultant psychiatrist has said she does not believe that a man on trial accused of murdering his neighbour with a machete was “feigning” when he said he was Moses, that his carer was the son of God and that his sister was “the blessed virgin”.

The trial of Patrick McDonagh also heard today that the accused man, who killed his neighbour with a machete, told Prof Patricia Casey that he went to Connolly Hospital in Dublin the day before the killing for psychiatric treatment but was turned away due to Covid restrictions.

Prof Casey agreed with prosecution counsel Philipp Rahn that she did not check to confirm if that were true as she did not believe the hospital would have kept a record. However, she said at the time people with psychiatric problems were being turned away because doctors were not available.

Prof Casey told the trial that Mr McDonagh had a long psychiatric history going back at least as far as 2001. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and Prof Casey said his delusional beliefs were persistent, well-documented and had been noted by others as being a “constant in his life”.


During nine interviews she conducted with Mr McDonagh over a two-year period following the killing in 2020, she said he was preoccupied with evil, would bless himself every few minutes and spoke about various delusional beliefs and hallucinations.

She said his speech was at times difficult to follow because it was “suffused with religious themes” and he would frequently interrupt his own sentences with religious thoughts. Throughout most of their interviews, Mr McDonagh referred to Prof Casey as “Mary”, even when reminded of her correct name and he repeatedly expressed delusions and themes regarding the devil and spirits.

Patrick McDonagh (52), with an address at Whitechapel Road, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, is charged with murdering his next-door neighbour Peter McDonald (73) on Whitechapel Road on July 25th, 2020. He has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty of manslaughter. The State has not accepted his plea.

The trial has previously heard that after killing Mr McDonald with a machete, Mr McDonagh locked himself into his own house and refused to comply with requests from armed gardaí that he come out. After several hours an armed unit broke through his front door and used a Taser gun to subdue and arrest him.

Prof Casey told defence counsel John FitzGerald that Mr McDonagh told her he had little memory of what happened that day, including what happened to Mr McDonald, with whom he said he had a good relationship. She said he did have a delusional memory that the gardaí who had assembled outside his door were going to put a jumper over his head and kill him.

Mr Fitzgerald told the witness that a psychiatrist who will be called by the prosecution will say that she does not believe the statements made by Mr McDonagh about his delusional beliefs, including that his carer is the son of God, that he is Moses and that his sister is “the blessed virgin” are genuine.

Professor Casey said the definition of a delusion is a fixed belief that is out of context with reality. She said Mr McDonagh’s false beliefs were “definitely persistent” and recurred during almost every interview she conducted with him.

“I do not believe that he was feigning; there was absolute consistency in these beliefs that he articulated,” she said.

She said she also spoke to Mr McDonagh’s carer who confirmed that these “religious thoughts and ideas” were a constant in Mr McDonagh’s life.

Prof Casey studied reports from other psychiatrists who had treated Mr McDonagh for his mental disorder over many years. She said he had been prescribed various antipsychotic and antidepressant medications but at times refused to take them.

Prof Casey said her opinion is that at the time of the attack on Mr McDonald, the accused was suffering from schizophrenia, a mental disorder under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006. She said the acute psychotic episode that he was suffering substantially diminished his responsibility for his actions.

She noted that during the stand-off with gardaí, Mr McDonagh asked a garda to pour holy water on himself “to prove the devil wasn’t in him”. She described this and other episodes as examples of “religious delusions” that had suffused the various reports she had seen going back over many years.

While Mr McDonagh had a long history of substance abuse, Prof Casey said in recent times it had become more infrequent and there was no evidence he was intoxicated at the time of the killing, although he did say he had been smoking cannabis around that time. The fact that his symptoms had persisted for so many years and throughout his time in custody without access to illegal drugs showed that his symptoms were not brought on by drug-induced psychosis, she said.

His state of arousal on the night of the killing was caused, she said, by a number of factors including his lack of sleep and noise outside, but the most important factor was his failure to take his medication. By early 2022, she said there was a “huge change in his demeanour” after he had been taking prescribed antipsychotic medication for a prolonged period.

Prof Casey was also asked to address a psychologist’s report that stated Mr McDonagh may have been feigning memory loss about the night Mr McDonald died. Prof Casey said the test used to suggest that he might be feigning memory loss did not take into account Mr McDonagh’s background as a member of the Travelling Community with an intellectual disability who could barely read or write and who was suffering from a psychotic illness.

The trial continues.

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