Updated: 08/07/17 : 11:42:37
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Not guilty of Sligo girl's murder by reason of insanity

A man who believed “he was in the Matrix” and strangled his girlfriend to death in order to save her, has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Oisin Conroy (34) told gardaí there was a struggle in his mind “between the devil and Jesus” and that a voice came in his head saying he had to kill Natalie McGuinness.

Mr Conroy, St Joseph’s Terrace, Boyle, Co Roscommon, was charged with murdering Ms McGuinness (23) at The Mews, Mail Coach Road, Sligo, on October 28th, 2015.

The Irish Times
reported that the court heard that Mr Conroy and Ms McGuinness had been in a relationship for four months prior to the incident. The deceased was good friends with the accused’s sister and this was how the relationship began. They both had an interest in fitness and martial arts.

The night before her death, Ms McGuinness was dropped to Mr Conroy’s residence by her parents and stayed over. At 10am the following morning, Mr Conroy made a 999 call requesting an ambulance and paramedics.

“I’ve killed my friend, I’ve strangled her, I gave her a rear naked chokehold,” he said.

Emergency services attended the scene and Ms McGuinness’ body was found on the floor of the bedroom. Mr Conroy was standing over the body in an aggressive stance, breathing heavily with his fists clenched. He was tasered by gardaí­ and became subdued.

Ms McGuinness was unresponsive and resuscitation efforts were made at Sligo General Hospital but she was pronounced dead at 11.22am. Her cause of death was compression of the neck and strangulation.

Blood

There was a lot of blood found at the scene but Chief State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy did not note any stab wounds or blood injuries to Ms McGuinness’s body.

Mr Conroy had a significant head injury and his skull bone was on show. He had caused this laceration to himself using a knife, said Det Sgt Harney.

There was a lot of blood found at the scene but Chief State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy did not note any stab wounds or blood injuries to Ms McGuinness’s body.

Mr Conroy had a significant head injury and his skull bone was on show. He had caused this laceration to himself using a knife, said Det Sgt Harney.

The accused was arraigned before the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms McGuinness by reason of insanity.

Two consultant forensic psychiatrists gave evidence during the trial that Mr Conroy was suffering from schizophrenia and he would have been unable to refrain from his actions.

They both said he met the requirements for the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Stephen Monks from the Central Mental Hospital told the jury on Friday that Mr Conroy was “in the throws of an acute psychotic episode” on October 28th, 2015, which manifested itself in his delusional beliefs.

“He believed he was in an alternate reality – the Matrix – and he was trying to escape from the Matrix,” he said.

Previously, Brendan Grehan SC, defending, made a number of admissions on behalf of his client including that Mr Conroy accepted that by his acts he had caused the death of Ms McGuinness by strangulation. He also said the sole issue was the mental state of the accused.

Unanimous verdict

The jury of six men and six women spent 24 minutes deliberating before bringing in a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

After they had delivered their verdict, Mr Justice Tony Hunt thanked the jury members for their time. “It is obvious from the brief snippet of evidence which the court heard that Natalie was a very caring and kind person,” he said.

The judge exempted them from jury service for the next seven years.

Mr Justice Hunt then made an order committing Mr Conroy to go to the Central Mental Hospital from Friday and to be brought back before the court on July 17th, when victim impact statements will be read to the court.

The judge also directed the preparation of a psychiatric assessment by an approved medical officer.

Mr Grehan said he had been asked on behalf of his client to express his deepest apologies and sorrow for his actions.