Inishowen axe-killer not guilty but insane

Kathleen and Jimmy Cuddihy
Kathleen and Jimmy Cuddihy

The family of a paranoid schizophrenic from Carndonagh who killed both his parents with an axe say they want to ensure other families take action before mental illness turns to tragedy.

Julian Cuddihy (43), was yesterday found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of his mother Kathleen (73), and father James (77), at their family home in Churchtown, Carndonagh, Co. Donegal on October 22, 2014.

Following the verdict, Julian’s brother, James Jnr, speaking on behalf of the family, said the case was a tragedy “for all our family, in particular our beloved parents, Jimmy and Kathleen, but also for our brother, Julian.”

He said the family had tried to get professional help for Julian but “decisive actions” were not taken that would have prevented the tragedy.

“We hope that nothing like this will ever happen to another family,” he added. “We would urge families with similar concerns about the mental well-being of a family member to seek timely assistance and intervention.”

The trial of Julian Cuddihy lasted three days and heard from three witnesses. Consultant forensic psychiatrists, Dr Damian Mohan and Dr Fiona Toal, told the jury that, in their opinions, Mr Cuddihy’s mental illness meant that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong and he could not stop himself.

In his closing speech yesterday, counsel for the prosecution Denis Vaughan Buckley SC said the evidence of the two experts was the most important in the case.

The presiding judge, Justice Margaret Heneghan, added that any verdict other than not guilty by reason of insanity could only be brought if the jury decided to ignore the expert testimony. She said a verdict of not guilty or guilty could only be theoretical and told the jury “you would be ignoring the evidence of two independent expert witnesses.”

The jury deliberated for 40 minutes before reaching unanimous verdicts on both counts.

Justice Heneghan extended her “deepest sympathies” to the Cuddihy family and committed Julian Cuddihy to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.

He will return to court on June 20 when a doctor will suggest a course of ongoing treatment and care.