Wednesday 26 October 2016

'Psychotic' man used hunting knife to stab ex-girlfriend to death in front of shoppers


Shane Smyth
Shane Smyth
Witness James Coffey leaving court after he gave evidence in the trial of Shane Smyth who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mairead Moran in May 2014 at the Market Cross Shopping Centre in Kilkenny City
Victim Mairead Moran

A man with a psychotic illness stabbed a former girlfriend to death with a hunting knife after dragging her out of the shop she worked in.

Shane Smyth (29) attacked Mairead Moran (26), stabbing her repeatedly in front of shocked shoppers.

The Central Criminal Court was told Ms Moran died from a wound to her body which went into her heart.

People heard her screams and came to help, but were unable to save her.

The jury heard Mr Smyth, a paranoid schizophrenic, had been suffering from a delusion that he was being persecuted and Ms Moran was part of a conspiracy against him.

Mr Smyth is charged with murdering Ms Moran on May 8, 2014, at Holland & Barrett health food shop in the city's Market Cross Shopping Centre.


He is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

The prosecution said a lot of the factual evidence in the case was not disputed.

Outlining the prosecution's case, John O'Kelly said Ms Moran had been working on the late shift. The accused had known her years earlier from when they were in their late teens and went out together for several months, but had "very seldom met" her by the time of the attack.

There had been previous occasions where he had confronted her and he had spat at her once, but she "went on with her life".

On the night, Mr Smyth turned up at around 8pm and started speaking to Ms Moran "quite aggressively".

People heard him asking: "Why did you want my blood?"

Ms Moran was in tears and a security man told Mr Smyth to leave, which he did "reluctantly".

Within five minutes, he got back in and "this terrible attack took place".

People came over and he was told to drop the knife, he did so and it was kicked away by a security guard.

He was put sitting on the ground while people tended to Ms Moran.

Mr Smyth then "hopped up" and ran out of the centre.

People tried to follow him but he got away, and got a taxi to his cousin's house.

He told his cousin that he had stabbed "his ex-girlfriend".

Gardai went to the house and arrested him.

The onset of illness happened in his late adolescence and Mr Smyth remained mentally ill, the prosecution said. He displayed psychosis, suffering from delusions about "spider infestation and thought broadcasting".

According to a psychiatrist's report, he "clearly failed to appreciate the enormity of his actions". He had believed he was being victimised and that his life was in danger, a second report stated.

The defence said that eight facts were being admitted, among them that Ms Moran died as a result of injuries inflicted by the accused with a knife, and that she died of a stab wound to the trunk as determined by the State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy.

Other accepted facts are that Mr Smyth was lawfully arrested and detained, he was fit to be interviewed having been examined by a psychiatrist and that the physical evidence was lawfully seized by the gardai.

The other accepted facts are that the scene was lawfully preserved, warrants were lawfully obtained and executed and the forensic evidence was not disputed.

Security guard James Coffey said he asked the man (Mr Smyth) to leave the centre.

Mr Smyth - with an address at McGuinness House, Evans Lane, Kilkenny - kicked out at him, but did not connect.

He then grabbed his radio, which he threw over the balcony to the lower level.

After the man returned, Mr Coffey saw him with the knife.

It was five- to six-inches long and had a timber handle and blood on it.

"He had a completely blank look on his face, like he didn't even realise what he was after doing," Mr Coffey said.

When Mr Smyth left again, Mr Coffey slipped and did not see which way he ran.

Cross-examined by Mr Cody, Mr Coffey agreed that the man had been "accusing Ms Moran of working for a company who kidnapped him and stole his blood", Mr Coffey said.

A witness, Angela Hennessy, said of the man: "I had a funny feeling about him, he just seemed really angry."

When she passed the shop again, she saw Ms Moran lying on the ground in front of it.


Emer Lawlor told the court she heard a scream and saw the man pulling the girl from Holland and Barrett.

"He was pulling her by the hair with his left hand and stabbing her with a knife into the chest," Ms Lawlor said, adding that she saw the man stab the woman at least three times.

There was blood all over the woman's hand and she "screamed even more when she saw the blood".

The trial continues before the jury and Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan.

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