A man found guilty of murdering his infant son more than 17 years ago has had his conviction quashed on the grounds that his recent diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia was new evidence, rendering his conviction unsafe.
Yusuf Ali Abdi, formerly of The Elms, College Road, Clane, Co Kildare, stood trial in 2003 for the murder of his son Nathan Baraka Andrew Ali on April 17, 2001.
Abdi’s defence at the trial was that he was insane, and a number of medical experts were called by the defence to support that view.
He claimed he was a zombie and that voices had told him to hit the child, so he struck his son against a wall several times by swinging the child by the legs.
The prosecution also called a number of medical witnesses to say that he was not psychotic.
Crucially, the prosecution called Dr Damien Mohan of the Central Mental Hospital, who said Abdi was not suffering from psychosis.
Abdi was found guilty of murdering his son by a 10-2 majority jury verdict and given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney on May 28, 2003.
The Court of Appeal quashed Abdi’s conviction yesterday on the basis that a 2013 diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, by another psychiatrist based at the Central Mental Hospital, was new evidence.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice John Edwards said the case was “wholly exceptional” given the change in his diagnosis by doctors treating him at the only dedicated forensic psychiatric facility – the Central Mental Hospital – in the State.
Abdi was remanded in custody to appear before the Central Criminal Court next Monday for the purpose of a retrial.
Counsel for Abdi, Barry White SC, instructed by MacGuill and Company Solicitors, said his client was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2013.
Up until that point, a diagnosis of schizophrenia had not been made by any psychiatrist providing in-patient care for him, the court heard.
Mr Justice Edwards said time had moved on since the trial in 2003 and there had been further opportunity to observe Abdi’s condition.
In light of the diagnosis, it was submitted that Dr Mohan’s diagnosis in 2003, though bona fide, was “erroneous” and this amounted to a new or newly discovered fact.