herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

A DEAF homeless man who killed another man by knocking him under a Dublin Bus may be sent to the UK for treatment as there are no appropriate services for him here.

A DEAF homeless man who killed another man by knocking him under a Dublin Bus may be sent to the UK for treatment as there are no appropriate services for him here.

A Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury found Edward Connors (30) guilty last May following an eight day manslaughter trial. He also admitted injuring, threatening or intimating two people with a syringe in separate incidents.

Eoghan Dudley (28) died almost instantly from "catastrophic and traumatic injuries" after going under the left rear wheel of the bus on Dawson Street during rush hour traffic.

Judge Patrick McCartan previously said that he doesn't want to jail Connors because of the lack of facilities available for deaf people in custody.

At a sentence hearing yesterday the judge heard from an expert witness that there are also no community based rehabilitation services to suit the needs of Connors.

Dr Margaret Du Feu, psychologist specialising in deafness, said that in the UK, Connors would have access to a residential treatment centre with a large staff. She said no such facilities exist in Ireland.

Dr Du Feu also said that in the UK Connors would have been examined by a specialist immediately after his arrest and that his fitness to plead would have been assessed. She said neither of these things happened.

"He is someone who would probably die on the streets and may yet," Dr Du Feu said. "The fact that he has been brought to the court's attention means there is surely some responsibility for his rehabilitation."

Judge McCartan asked if it would be possible for a specialist to assess Connors for his suitability for treatment in the UK.

Dr Du Feu said she would strongly recommend such an approach adding, "It would be absolutely perfect for him."

During the sentence hearing the prosecution presented evidence that the prison service is able to accommodate Connors if a jail term is imposed.

Head of nursing in Mountjoy prison, Enda Kelly, said that Connors seems to coping well while on remand in custody. He told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy BL that Connors is able to communicate with staff and that interpreters can be brought in if needed.

Mr Kelly agreed with defence counsel Caroline Biggs SC that to date no interpreter has been provided to Connors since he entered custody.

Ms Biggs presented evidence that until recently her client has been on voluntary 23 hours lock-up. She said he is afraid of being in the general population as he cannot hear what is happening around him.

Brendan Lennon of the Deafhear organisation said he is aware of four other young deaf men in Dublin who live chaotic lives similar to Connors "and so are a danger to themselves and others."

"What should I do, what can I do?" Judge McCartan asked him.

Mr Lennon replied that "deaf people must take accountability for their actions as much as any other person."

"Our issue is the State hasn't provided these people with a fair chance, with appropriate services to give them an opportunity to turn their lives around."

Connors of no fixed abode and formerly of Bearna Park, Sandyford, admitted interacting with the deceased but claimed that what looked like a punch on CCTV footage is actually him trying to grab Mr Dudley to stop him falling off the path and going under the bus.

He had pleaded not guilty to unlawfully killing Mr Dudley on December 6, 2012.

Connors also pleaded guilty to two counts of using a syringe to cause injury or threaten to cause injury at Balally Shopping Centre, Sandyford on May 17, 2012 and at Lotts Lane on August 18, 2012.

Judge McCartan remanded Connors in continuing custody until December 9 so that the possibility of UK treatment can be investigated.

He said he hoped there would be information on that date from the government or the UK authorities about available treatment options.

"The authorities cannot say they are unaware now," the judge added.

"Residential treatment programmes for Mr Connors do not exist in Ireland," he added. "He needs assistance and it has to be of a signed nature."

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