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Thursday 21 November 2019

'Unacceptable that man who beat our son to death lived just a few doors away' - family

Micheal Loughlin, father of the late Jimmy, with John O’Keeffe. Photo: Collins
Micheal Loughlin, father of the late Jimmy, with John O’Keeffe. Photo: Collins

The parents of a man beaten to death by a neighbour who was undergoing a psychotic episode have told the Central Criminal Court it is "unacceptable" that someone so dangerous and known to mental health services was living just a few doors from their "defenceless" son.

It emerged during the trial that a psychiatrist previously had concerns that the man responsible for the killing was at risk of murdering someone due to his delusional beliefs.

Following a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity for Sligo man Richard McLaughlin, the deceased's parents Paula and Micheal Loughlin said their son Jimmy had never had any contact with Mr McLaughlin before he "broke through Jimmy's front door and attacked him violently with a crow bar".

In a statement read to the court on their behalf, they said: "To discover that someone so dangerous was living just a few doors down the road and known to mental health services in Sligo is totally unacceptable."

Mr McLaughlin (32), of The Laurels, Woodtown Lodge, Sligo, was yesterday found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of Jimmy 'James' Loughlin (20) at Connolly Street in Sligo on February 24, 2018.

The court heard Mr McLaughlin broke down the door of Mr Loughlin's home at 1.18pm and beat him to death with a crowbar while suffering from delusions brought on by paranoid schizophrenia. Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said the deceased died from traumatic head injuries.

In their statement, Mr Loughlin's parents said their son was born in January 1998 and the family moved to Sligo in 2002.

Ordeal

They added: "Jimmy was the light of our life. He was so funny and always lived his life to the full, never looking further than the day ahead.

"We never thought that Jimmy's hopes, plans and future were soon to be taken away from him shortly after he had turned 20 years of age."

When they heard their son had died Paula and Micheal had the "terrible ordeal" of breaking the news to their daughters Grace, Rose and Kitty.

They added: "Nothing can ever prepare you for the news that your only son has died.

"[His] death has left a huge void in our lives that can never by healed."

Outside court, family spokesman John O'Keeffe said: "The family do believe there are questions to be answered with regard to the mental health services. They hope that at the coroner's inquest in October of this year those questions will be answered."

Brendan Grehan SC, on behalf of Mr McLaughlin, told the court his client's mother Mairead wished to express her "deepest sorrow" to the Loughlin family for the death of their "entirely innocent son".

Justice Carmel Stewart then directed Dr Sally Lenihan at the Central Mental Hospital to draw up a report for the court regarding ongoing treatment for Mr McLaughlin, which the court will hear on July 16.

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