Kilkenny man pleads not guilty to attempted murder in city knife incident last summer

The 40-year-old man has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity

Eoin Reynolds


Eoin Reynolds



The Central Criminal Court.

A Kilkenny man with paranoid schizophrenia has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder by reason of insanity.

Gerard Dowling (40) of The Sycamores, Freshford Road, Kilkenny is on trial at the Central Criminal Court for the attempted murder of 60-year-old Simon Bourke at Market Cross Shopping Centre in Kilkenny City on July 13, 2016. He also pleaded not  guilty by reason of insanity to assaulting Mr Bourke causing him harm and to producing a knife during the same incident.

Opening the trial Denis Vaughan Buckley SC told the jury of six men and six women that forensic psychiatrists for the prosecution and defence assessed Mr Dowling and agreed that he was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the alleged assault and fits the criteria for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. He said they would hear from lengthy reports detailing the accused man's mental health problems going back to 1998.

At the time of the assault Mr Vaughan Buckley said there will be evidence that the accused man was not taking his medication and had begun hearing voices in his head. Although he had never met Mr Bourke before he believed he was responsible for those voices.

Counsel said the prosecution psychiatrist would say that Mr Dowling suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and at the time of the alleged offence believed what he was doing was necessary and justified to get relief from the voices in his head. He added that his mental problems were such that he was unable to refrain from acting as he did.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said Mr Bourke's partner tried to fight off his attacker using her handbag but that Mr Bourke suffered knife injuries to his head. Small parts of the knife remain lodged in his head but he has made a full recovery.

Mr Buckley told the jury that if they are satisfied that Mr Dowling was insane at the time and return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, the accused man will then be committed to the Central Mental Hospital for further assessment and to set a course of treatment.

Colman Cody for the defence admitted that his client had produced a knife at Market Cross Shopping Centre on the date alleged and that he used it to strike Mr Bourke, causing him harm. The defence also accepted that he was lawfully arrested and detained and that the knife he used is the one alleged by the prosecution.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of the jury and Justice Paul McDermott.