A jury verdict which found a driver guilty of manslaughter, after doctors agreed that he met the criteria to be found legally insane, has been causing the Director of Public Prosecutions some “difficulty”, the Court of Appeal has been told.
Polish national Dariusz Alchimionek (44), with an address at Barrow Way, Spa Street, Portarlington, Co Laois, had denied the manslaughter of Offaly man John Gorman (19) and assault causing harm to his brother, Adam, on December 29, 2015.
The brothers had been returning home from Tullamore when a vehicle, driven by Alchimionek, suddenly crossed the road into the path of their oncoming car at Ballycrystal, Geashill, Co Offaly. Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court heard how Alchimionek had become convinced the Islamic State group, or Isis, were about to invade Europe and a third World War was about to begin.
Consultant psychiatrists for both the prosecution and the defence agreed that Alchimionek met the criteria to be found not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury had the option of returning of three verdicts: guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.
After two hours and 50 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned majority guilty verdicts of 11-1 on both counts, which were met with applause in the courtroom.
The accused was then sentenced nine years imprisonment with the final three suspended by Judge Keenan Johnson in October 2017.
Alchimionek has lodged an appeal against his conviction on the sole ground that the jury’s verdict was “perverse” and against the evidence.
His appeal was due to be heard in the Court of Appeal Tuesday, October 16. However, lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought an adjournment of the case on Monday.
Counsel for the DPP, Michael Delaney SC, said it was a case "on which the Director has been reflecting for some time" and it has caused "some difficulty".
Mr Delaney said the prosecution’s consultant psychiatrist effectively agreed with the consultant psychiatrist hired by the defence that Alchimionek met the criteria for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The prosecution’s consultant psychiatrist had not been called to give evidence. However, the jury was told that the prosecution’s doctor effectively agreed with the doctor for the defence.
Mr Delaney said the DPP wished to carry out "further enquiries" some of which had a bearing “on questions asked by the jury". He said the DPP would be seeking a further opinion from their consultant psychiatrist which would take some weeks.
Counsel for Alchimionek, Kenneth Fogarty SC, said the atmosphere in the Circuit Court had been "highly charged". There was an "outpouring of emotion" that was "humanly understandable" but “not desirable in terms of how the law was to be applied".
Mr Fogarty said the prosecution had made a decision at one point to "change what the accused man was facing". What started out as a dangerous driving causing death charge later became a manslaughter charge.
He said it was explained to Alchimionek that the foregone conclusion of a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity, was a referral to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH).
Mr Fogarty said Alchimionek was currently on a landing in Wheatfield Prison and his only instructions were that he’d be “more suitably detained” in the CMH. He said the medication in Wheatfield was the same as in the CMH but the resources were not.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Ms Justice Máire Whelan and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, put the matter back for case management to November 30, next.
Mr Justice Birmingham said the court would try to get the parties an early date for hearing if necessary “but it may not be”.