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Monday 20 November 2017

Driver (69) in Trinity rampage pleads insanity

The wrecked gates at Trinity College after the rampage
The wrecked gates at Trinity College after the rampage

A 69-year-old man accused of ramming his car through Trinity College's front gates has pleaded not guilty to criminal damage and road traffic offences by reason of insanity.

John Farrell, of Fassaugh Road, Cabra, Dublin, caused more than €33,000 worth of damage when he went on a rampage through Trinity and the city centre shortly after 6am on April 2, 2014.

The brunt of the bill was for replacing the college's 18th century wooden gates, which were effectively destroyed by Mr Farrell's vehicle.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that after his arrest, Mr Farrell said: "I'm sorry for what I done. I don't want fame, I just want peace of mind."

Bipolar

At the start of his trial, Mr Farrell denied five counts of criminal damage, four counts of endangerment by driving towards people at speed, three counts of dangerous driving, and two counts of failing to stop after a collision.

Anne Rowland BL, representing the State, said Mr Farrell did not dispute any of the actions alleged against him.

She said it would be up to the jury to decide on his mens rea, or mental intention, on the day.

A consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum said Mr Farrell had underlying bipolar disorder and a pre-existing history of hyper-mania.

The psychiatrist said he believed that Mr Farrell's behaviour on the day satisfied the legal definition of insanity.

The court heard that after following a van through the gates into Trinity, Mr Farrell drove over flowerbeds, scattering people who ran for shelter, and smashed through two steel barriers and a set of iron gates.

He then drove at speed towards the closed wooden front gates, shouting at security officer Alan Currivan: "Open them f***ing gates."

He made no impact the first time, but reversed and drove at the gates harder, breaking through on the third go and hitting a college van on the far side, the court was told.

Gardai at this stage were monitoring Mr Farrell's movements as he drove up Grafton Street Lower at speed, scattering traffic and pedestrians.

He drove up Nassau Street and turned into Dawson Street, driving against the traffic up a one-way street. Mr Farrell then accelerated into a car twice.

The court heard that gardai took the key from the ignition, but it took four officers to prise Mr Farrell's hands from the steering wheel.

Judge Patricia Ryan is due to deliver her charge to the jury today.

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