13 Aug 2022

Attempted murderer who tried to strangle a nurse attacking other prisioners


A man who attempted to murder a teenager at a popular Dublin hiking spot and later tried to strangle a psychiatric nurse with a sock has attacked another prisoner in Mountjoy Prison with a hot kettle, the Central Criminal Court has heard. 

In July 2018, Michael Corbett (30) was released from a nine-year prison sentence for the attempted murder, having served less than three years, on condition that he live with his mother. The final six years of his sentence were suspended because he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attack.

The father-of-one, with a previous address in Raheny, was living rough when he assaulted the 17-year-old on June 27, 2016 at the Hellfire Club on Dublin's Montpelier Hill. The victim suffered a four-inch stab wound to the chest and Corbett struck another teenager on the head with a piece of timber. Corbett pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

As a result of that attack Corbett was an in-patient at the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) when he attacked nurse Declan Curtin on October 6, 2016. Staff were escorting him to an exercise period when he asked to use the toilet. When Mr Curtin went in after him Corbett used a sock to try to strangle the nurse.

The victim, an experienced nurse, managed to free himself before he was seriously harmed but the court heard he suffers from flashbacks and an increased level of anxiety in his work. Corbett later pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Curtin, causing him harm.

Judge Melanie Greally imposed a five-year sentence and suspended the final two-and-a-half years for 15 years on strict conditions. These conditions include that he remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for the entire 15-year period and that he live at an address agreed with the gardaí and Probation Service.

At Tuesday's hearing, prosecution counsel Fergal Foley BL told Mr Justice Michael White that Corbett, who is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, has been engaging in acts of violence in Mountjoy prison and asked for the court to order an updated psychiatric report. Corbett remains in custody in relation to the Dublin Circuit Court matter and is due for release in August, said Mr Foley. 

Probation officer Elaine Kavanagh told Mr Foley that Corbett had been in the general population in Mountjoy Prison, which she said was a good thing as he was taking responsibility for his own behaviour. However, by last October he had been smoking cannabis and assaulted another prisoner with a hot kettle so was moved to the High Support Unit (HSU) in the prison, she said. 

Since leaving the HSU Corbett has assaulted a number of other people in the prison and there has been no significant period of time in which there has been stability, she noted, adding that he has demonstrated no effort to engage with services.

"His behaviour in the custodial setting has been characterised by him becoming unwell and returning to the HSU and coming well again," she explained, adding that a further period in custody might give him an opportunity to demonstrate stability.

Under cross-examination, Ms Kavanagh told Michael Bowman SC, for Corbett, that it is a concern that his client has expressed an intention to travel to Brazil upon his release from custody to see his son, when he will still be under the supervision of the probation services.

"We are running out of time and options because of his behaviour and accommodation services are saying he is not a suitable candidate. Accommodation providers will look for a significant period of stability and in the absence of that he is an unsuitable candidate," she concluded. 

Mr Justice White directed that Dr Damien Smith at the CMH prepare an updated psychiatric report and put the case in for mention on July 17. 

When delivering Corbett's sentence in 2018 Mr Justice White noted medical reports which showed that the accused had a severe mental disability, paranoid schizophrenia, at the time of the attack.

“He had responsibility that was quite significantly diminished by his illness,” he added. He noted that the illness would manifest itself again if Corbett stopped taking his medication or returned to alcohol or drugs and imposed a sentence of nine years, with six years suspended on specific conditions.

The main condition was that he would live with his mother on his release from prison for the remaining six years of the term. “The court can’t take a chance with this man being homeless again,” he said. “He’s not permitted to live other than with his mother, apart from the consent of the court to do that.”

Last July, Mr Justice White said he would remove the requirement for Corbett to live with his mother on condition that he live at accommodation approved by probation services. Corbett agreed to continue taking his medication when he moved to his new home or he risked having a psychotic episode. 

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