Polish authorities monitoring Laois Offaly manslaughter appeal case

Court Reporter

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Court Reporter

poland portarlington crash

Polish man appealing sentence.

An appeal in which a jury verdict found a driver guilty of manslaughter after doctors agreed that he met the criteria to be found legally insane, is being watched by the Polish Embassy in Dublin, 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 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 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 barrister, Kenneth Fogarty SC, asked the Court of Appeal today/yesterday(FRIDAY) for the earliest possible date for hearing. 

Mr Fogarty said it was a case of finding the “proper place for his treatment and care”. He said he was currently serving a sentence in prison but “undoubtedly he should be detained in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH),” counsel said. 

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Delaney SC, said on the last occasion that 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 told the court on Friday, November 30 that certain lines of inquiry pursued by the DPP had not been completed. 

He said the State were seeking to obtain medical records related to Alchimionek. He said there had been a previous hospitalisation and the state hoped to receive cooperation from the defence in receiving those records.

Mr Fogarty said the State was entitled at any time to obtain the information they were now retrospectively seeking. He said the State was trying to "justify a situation that is unjustifiable”.

Mr Fogarty informed the court that representatives from the Polish Embassy in Dublin had become interested in the case as observers.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham listed the matter for January 24 next. 

On the last occasion, Mr Fogarty 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).