A YOUNG man who said he only intended to set his mother free because of the cruelty of life has been convicted of her murder after stabbing her in the head with a broken kitchen knife.
Paul Horgan (27) remained emotionless as a Central Criminal Court jury convicted him of the murder of his mother, Marian (60), after deliberating for just over an hour.
Judge Patrick McCarthy imposed a mandatory life sentence after being told the Horgan family did not wish to make a victim impact statement.
Members of the Horgan family present in court comforted each other after the sentencing.
Marian Horgan was fatally stabbed at her Murmount Avenue home in Montenotte, Cork on November 23 2015.
A broken kitchen knife was found embedded in her head.
The blade had been driven through the back of her skull, severed her jugular vein, ran underneath her jawbone and lodged in her tongue.
The defendant insisted to the trial he only intended to set free his parents, Marian and Billy Horgan, and then free himself.
Horgan drank two bottles of wine while watching seven episodes of ‘Family Guy’ and then a Harry Potter film as he insisted to arresting Gardaí he had absolutely no recollection of the fatal stabbing almost three years ago.
His mother was found by Gardaí lying in a pool of blood between the kitchen and hallway of her home with the broken knife protruding from the back of her head.
His father, Billy, had also suffered serious injuries.
But Paul Horgan insisted he did not intend to kill anyone.
“I wanted to set her (his mother) free not that I meant to kill her.”
But he replied “Yeah” when it was put to him that it was an inescapable fact of the evidence that he had fatally stabbed his mother.
“I did not intend to kill her. I intended to set her free because life is so cruel. My own life was cruel too.”
“I wanted to set her free. My mother did not deserve cruelty.”
He acknowledged that he had the same intention for his father and himself.
“I was going to set him free too.”
The three day trial was told that while Billy Horgan suffered serious injuries, he had refused to press charges against his son.
The young man, in answer to a question referencing his father, expressed his regret.
“Yeah, I am so sorry – I didn’t mean it at all.”
“I don’t know how it happened.”
He insisted he does not recall the events of that November morning.
“Horrible – it is hard to listen to everything (in evidence).”
“But I don’t remember it, like.”
In cross-examination, Tom Creed SC, for the State, pointed out that while Paul Horgan was assessed in the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, it was found that he was not suffering from a mental disorder.
“At the time of this offence you were not suffering from a mental disorder,” Mr Creed said.
The defendant insisted that he was only found not to be suffering from “a serious mental disorder.”
However, Mr Creed challenged that and pointed to a CMH report which stressed that the defendant was not assessed as suffering from a mental disorder as defined under legislation.
“It was not like my thoughts were normal,” the young man said.
He explained that, after the confrontation with his parents, he went back upstairs to his bedroom, leaving a blood trail behind him.
“I was walking upstairs whistling a marching tune I was hearing,” he said.
Moments later, the young man followed his injured father out onto the street in front of their house and was disarmed and forcibly restrained by shocked neighbours.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster found that Mrs Horgan died from a single massive stab injury to her head.
The blade of the knife was embedded in her head when she was found by Gardai at the scene – with the blade sticking out the rear of her skull.
Dr Bolster said Mrs Horgan died from shock and haemorrhage.
She had also suffered a stab wound to her back and had defensive injuries to her hands.
“Significant force would have been required to inflict this (fatal) wound,” Dr Bolster said.
Mrs Horgan’s blood was later found on her son’s T-shirt, his hoodie and his shoes.
Detective Garda Mark Durcan was the first Garda at the scene and said he saw two men forcibly restraining a blood stained young man on the roadway at Murmont Avenue.
The detective was told by local man, Fergus O’Donoghue, who was holding Paul Horgan, that: “He is after stabbing his parents – I think his mam is dead.”
Detective Durcan went into the property and saw an injured Billy Horgan desperately ringing an ambulance for his critically injured wife.
However, she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Paul Horgan was arrested and taken to Mayfield Garda Station for questioning.
In an interview with Detective Durcan, he insisted he had absolutely no recollection of the fatal confrontation that morning.
“I just remember pieces. I just remember this morning there was a guard and then the cell door.”
“I was drinking to forget. I don’t remember anything after the second bottle of wine.”
The young man explained to Gardai that he only drank when he felt depressed.
“Just on a bad day when I am feeling a bit depressed – it annoys me that I cannot talk to women.”
“I am not even good on dating sites.”
Mr Horgan said he had spent the entire previous day in bed, only getting up at 6pm.
He watched TV and, around 2am, took two bottles of wine which belonged to his mother and started drinking them.
He said he watched around seven episodes of ‘Family Guy’ and then a Harry Potter film.
“Deathly Hallows Park II is that last thing I can remember watching.”
Mr Horgan acknowledged to Gardaí that he smoked cannabis but insisted he had not done so for at least two weeks before November 23.
He repeatedly insisted he had no recollection of the fatal incident with his mother at breakfast and could not explain whether it was over him being intoxicated or having taken his mother’s wine.
When informed his father said he had attacked both him and his mother with knives that morning, the young man expressed surprise.
“Two knives? That explains the cuts, I suppose. Knives? What the f***. I’ll probably get life. I never harmed anyone before.”
“I don’t want to remember. If I remember that it will probably keep me awake (at night).”
“How many times did I stab her?”
The jury of nine men and three women returned a unanimous guilty verdict on the murder charge after deliberating for one hour and four minutes following a three day trial.