Psychiatrist found ‘no evidence of acute mental illness’ after assessment of garda murder accused, court hears – The Irish Times
A psychiatrist who assessed the murder of Garda accused Stephen Silver hours after the shooting of Gda Colm Horkan found “no evidence of acute mental illness”, the Central Criminal Court heard.
Dr Will Monteiro, a consultant psychiatrist with 30 years’ experience, said Mr Silver’s speech and behavior were within normal limits and he found him fit for questioning.
The doctor admitted in cross-examination that he did not have time to do a full assessment and diagnosis of Mr. Silver and recommended that a forensic psychiatrist perform a formal evaluation.
The trial also heard today that Mr Silver had previously met Gda Horkan in 2003 when the garda called the defendant’s mother’s house for help.
Mr Silver (46), a motorcycle mechanic from Aughavard, Foxford, Co Mayo, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Det Garda Horkan knowing or not caring whether he was a member of An Garda Siochana acting in accordance with his duty. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility, in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon on June 17, 2020.
At the opening of the trial, prosecution attorney Michael Delaney SC told the jury that the defense would argue that Mr Silver had a relapse of his mental health issues at the time of the shooting and therefore his guilt is considerably reduced.
Dr Monteiro told Mr Delaney on Monday that when he arrived in Castlerea around 9 a.m. he knew Mr Silver had a history of mental health, but he did not know what it was. He spoke to the defendant through a trapdoor in the cell door as it was considered too risky to enter the room, he said.
Mr. Silver was in ‘a pretty disheveled state’, he said, ‘and didn’t really want to talk to me and made it clear he didn’t want to be interviewed by me on the grounds that he didn’t have me. never met before and didn’t know who I was.Mr Silver also said he wanted his family to be present before he wanted to talk.
The doctor noted that the accused’s speech was normal although vigorous. His eye contact was appropriate, he was purposeful, goal-directed, and displayed “normal person demeanor pretty well, in quotes… his processing of information seemed normal.” He did not appear to be intoxicated or delirious, his movements were within normal limits and there was “no evidence of psychotic elements in his speech”.
He was “a bit restless” but that, according to the doctor, “was in the context of someone being interrogated in a cell who didn’t want to be there”.
Dr. Monteiro said he felt that Mr. Silver was in a position to determine whether he wanted to speak to him and he quickly formed the opinion that it was likely that Mr. Silver was suitable to be interviewed. He added: “He understood the information given to him and was able to respond to it in any way he chose.”
Dr Monteiro spoke to Mr Silver again shortly afterwards “to confirm if this was correct”. From the second interview, he found nothing that contradicted what he had found in the first.
When the doctor asked Mr. Silver what caused him to be in a cell, he noted that Mr. Silver had replied ‘you’re kidding’ in a loud voice and added: ‘Why should I tell you? say ? I want a lawyer, I’m not talking to you. The doctor said these were normal things to say for someone in Mr. Silver’s situation.
The doctor noted that Mr Silver was obviously agitated ‘in the sense of being energetic but at the same time speech was within normal limits’.
Speaking to the sergeant in charge of the station, Dr. Monteiro said the accused was able to listen to what was being said and respond appropriately. He added: ‘There was no evidence of acute mental illness present at the time, no thought disorder. The structure of the speech was within normal limits and there was no extraneous delusional material or hallucinatory material or that sort of thing.
Dr Monteiro said Mr Silver clearly had a history of mental illness, but added: ‘I felt at the time that it was under his control, so to speak, and I felt that he was able to ‘to be interrogated.’
Dr Monteiro said he later learned that a GP had earlier in the morning given Mr Silver 50 milligrams of Seroquell, an antipsychotic drug. He said if he had known this at the time, it would not have changed his conclusions. He said the 50mg dose given was “very small”; the range for the treatment of psychotic illness would be 300mg to 800mg.
On cross-examination, the witness told Roisin Lacey SC that he was unable to make an assessment of his mental state because Mr Silver refused to be interviewed. He further agreed that he had indicated that Mr. Silver should have a more formal forensic assessment and that his own assessment was incomplete. He stated that his task was to assess whether Mr. Silver was suitable for interview and he found that he was.
The jury in Mr Silver’s trial also viewed footage of a fifth interview Mr Silver did with gardaí at Castlerea Garda station the day after the shooting. During the interview, Inspector Brian Hanley explained to Mr. Silver that he had told detectives in previous interviews that Gda Horkan had identified himself as a garda before getting out of his car and when he stood before Mr. Silver. They also told him that he said Gda Horkan told him he was under arrest for assault. Mr. Silver did not respond. Detectives added that Mr Silver said he noticed a gun in a holster on the garda’s hip but did not know who had removed the gun from the holster. They pointed out that Gda Horkan’s garda identity card was found on the ground, away from his body. Inspector Hanley asked, “So how can you tell me you didn’t know he was a guard?”
Mr. Silver had his back turned to the gardaí and did not respond. When asked by detectives if he had ever met Colm Horkan before, Mr Silver began to chant “We have all the time in the world” and referred to the gardaí as “detective garda Henry Hippo and Paddy Farrell” before ask to be allowed to leave. , “because I need to urinate”.
When the interview resumed, Inspector Hanley told Mr. Silver that he had already met with Gda Horkan. In October 2003, he said, Gda Horkan called Mr Silver’s mother’s house after she asked for help. When asked if he remembered, he said he could not be expected to remember and added that if Gda Horkan knew him, “he should have known that I’m a trained man, so he shouldn’t have approached me.” Inspector Hanley told Mr Silver that Gda Horkan had “done his best” and helped him and his mother when they needed help. He said Gda Horkan “should have stayed in his car” and would be alive if he had.
The trial continues before Judge Paul McDermott and a jury of seven men and five women.