A son who killed his mother in a drug-fuelled "frenzied knife attack" and whose murder conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, is in danger of becoming homeless once he is released from custody, his sentence hearing has been told.
Lawyers for Celyn Eadon, now aged 29, said on Monday that "gross intoxication" was not an excuse for their client's actions but it had deprived him of an intention to kill and cause serious injury to his mother.
Defence counsel Patrick Gageby SC stressed to the Central Criminal Court that it was "utterly apparent" that Eadon had acquired a brain injury from his consumption of drugs as a juvenile and it was unfortunate that this matter was "not more readily publicised".
Last November, the State accepted Eadon's plea to the lesser offence of manslaughter, on the basis that intoxication can prevent the formation of the statutory intent needed for murder.
Eadon, who appeared via video-link from prison, was aged 19 when he killed his 46-year-old mother in the early hours of March 9, 2011. He stabbed Noreen Kelly 19 times in their home at Derrycrieve, Islandeady, Castlebar, Co Mayo.
He had admitted to her killing that day and pleaded guilty to her manslaughter. However, a jury found him guilty of her murder by unanimous verdict, and he was sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment in February 2014.
The defendant had his conviction for murder overturned in December 2019, when a five-judge Supreme Court ruled that it was unsafe. The superior court found that the trial judge's instruction to the jury on intoxication and specific intention was inadequate, as it had not informed the jury of the "vitally important point" that intoxication can be a partial defence to murder but not to manslaughter.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had to decide whether to accept Eadon's manslaughter plea or pursue a retrial on the murder charge. However, the Central Criminal Court was told last October that the DPP was accepting the plea to manslaughter on the basis of intoxication.
The Supreme Court noted in its judgment that since Eadon was aged 13, he was a significant and persistent abuser of alcohol and drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine and crystal meth. In the 18 months before the killing, he was spending upwards of €400 per week on drugs and drank large quantities of alcohol on a daily basis.
At a brief hearing on Monday, Seamus Clarke SC on behalf of the DPP told Mr Justice Michael White that Eadon would "go into homelessness" if a sentence was imposed where he would be re-released into society.
A probation report was sought for Eadon last November and the court heard today that the probation services were not in a position to offer Eadon suitable accommodation. "There is a difficulty there in relation to housing needs. I had understood they needed some time to assist with housing difficulties moving forward," said Mr Clarke.
Defence counsel Patrick Gageby SC, for Eadon, said he was going to ask the court to finalise the matter today because there was no particular place for his client to attend now or in the immediate future, which did not "debar the court" from making conditional orders.
Mr Clarke said the DPP had assessed the case as falling into the high culpability range for manslaughter cases.
In his submissions, Mr Gageby said that "these matters" disturb his client even after 10 years and pointed out that Eadon had admitted killing his mother upon his arrest and at his trial. "The only issue for the jury to decide at the end of the case was either diminished responsibility or intoxication manslaughter and they chose differently," he said.
Mr Gageby submitted that the court had extensive material and it was "trite" to say that some problematic matters had arisen in relation to Eadon's behaviour, which he asked the judge to look at. "The court is conscious of the limits of this jurisdiction in relation to preventative detention," he added.
Counsel said prior to his client's arrest for this matter, he had "offered no violence" to his mother, which Mr Gagbey said was shown from the "moving testament" and letter read to the court from Eadon's father, Mark Eadon, last November.
"It is utterly apparent that the defendant acquired a brain injury from his drug-taking as a juvenile and unfortunately that was not more readily publicised. Undoubtedly, this case with the plea of manslaughter was predicated on the basis of gross intoxication," said Mr Gageby.
The barrister stressed that "gross intoxication" is not an excuse for what happened but it did deprive Eadon of his intention to kill and cause serious injury to his mother. "This is not a mere intoxication but a florid intoxication with bizarre ideas," he indicated.
Mr Gageby asked Mr Justice White to make the sentence proportionate and understand the difficulties in his client's "aftercare". "I know the court cannot and will not make any presumptions about his future conduct," he said.
Eadon has 13 other convictions, mostly for assaults causing harm carried out since he began his life sentence.
Mr Justice White remanded the defendant in custody to February 22, when he will be sentenced. The judge said he had "some idea" of the sentence that he would impose and noted that this would include a suspended element of supervision in the community with strict conditions.
SENTENCE HEARING - NOVEMBER 16, 2020:
At Eadon's sentence hearing last November, Detective Sergeant James Carroll told Seamus Clarke SC, prosecuting, that Ms Kelly had taken drugs from her son’s bedroom and burnt them on the evening before she died. She had also put out two fires he had lit and put a chainsaw into the boot of her car.
Eadon’s sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court last November was interrupted a number of times and his video link turned off for a time, as he shouted abuse at the prosecutor. The barrister was detailing a list of his mother’s stab wounds at the time.
Both the deceased's brother and Eadon’s father stated that Noreen Kelly had called them to the house that evening for help. His father, Mark Eadon, said his son was starry-eyed and he was convinced the teenager was on speed. He left at 11pm.
Eadon’s younger brother dialled 999 at 1.38am. He had been woken by his mother screaming for help and had found her slumped on the floor, with her face covered in blood.
The house was full of smoke and Ms Kelly showed no signs of life by the time the emergency services arrived.
Her killer had fled cross-country, and a neighbour noticed him in his back garden at breakfast time. Eadon told the neighbour that he had been abducted by aliens, who had conducted experiments on him, and that he had killed his mother.
He later told Gardaí that "she went for me", that he didn’t know it was his mother and that she was a totally different person. He said that he had clipped her with a knife that he’d had in his pocket for five to 10 minutes.
Eadon, who has been in custody since that day, was offered a seat in the room in prison from where he followed the sentence hearing by video link. He preferred to stand, but had sat down and could no-longer be seen by the time Mr Clarke was leading the sergeant through the pathology report.
Counsel detailed the stab wounds to Ms Kelly’s eye, brain, jugular, lung, liver and other areas. These had caused catastrophic haemorrhage. There were also classic defence injuries to her arms and legs. Death would have been rapid.
Mr Clarke then proceeded to go into more detail about each of the 19 stab wounds.
Eadon stood back up and accused him of listing more injuries than she had. “You f**ing w**ker,” he said. “You f**ing annoying b**tard. You f***ing asshole.”
Mr Justice Michael White asked Eadon’s barrister, Patrick Gageby SC, about the possibility of turning off the link to the prison, and Mr Gageby confirmed that the judge had discretion. Justice White then instructed that the hearing continue in Eadon’s absence for a time.
Mr Clarke read out a victim impact statement prepared by Mark Eadon, the deceased’s former husband and Eadon’s father.
He said that his wife had lost her life trying to protect her child.
“I do not blame Celyn for what happened anymore,” he said. “I’m sure, had she survived, she would have forgiven him.”
He said that young people now are under great pressures.
“The international drugs trade has almost every nation in its grip,” he concluded.
At this stage, the link to the prison was reconnected and Eadon asked why Mr Clarke was "lying" about his mother’s injuries.
Mr Gageby explained that his client had always become "exercised" when his mother’s injuries were mentioned.
However, Eadon continued to speak even when Mr Gageby began cross-examining the sergeant about other matters.
The hearing continued, with the sergeant confirming that the deceased had tried to have her son admitted to hospital, but had been told that the Gardaí would need to be involved.
Eadon rubbed tears from his eyes as Mr Gageby read out a letter the prisoner had written.
“I didn’t set out to kill my mother,” he wrote. “I pray to God my mother can forgive me.”
He wrote that he felt like a bad person, and had to learn to live with it.
“I wish I could go back to that night in question,” he continued. “My mother is gone forever because of me.”
Mr Justice White informed Eadon that he was adjourning the case until February 8 so that the Probation Service could put a structure in place if he was to be released from prison.
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