Bray man who killed his mother sent to Cen­tral Men­tal Hospi­tal

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BRAY MAN Bi­jan Af­shar has been found not guilty of mur­der­ing his mother by rea­son of in­san­ity. Af­shar beat his mother Lynn Cas­sidy to death in June 2014.

The jury heard in Dublin last week about his med­i­cal his­tory and fam­ily back­grou­und.

His fa­ther’s home was be­ing sold and he went to his mother’s house to see if she could stop the sale. He flew into a rage and Af­shar killed Ms Cas­sidy.

Two psy­chi­a­trists agreed he met the cri­te­ria for the spe­cial ver­dict by virtue of the fact he would not have been able to re­frain him­self be­cause of his con­di­tion.

He will now un­dergo fur­ther as­sess­ment in the Cen­tral Men­tal Hospi­tal, be­fore the court de­cides the best course of ac­tion for him when it re­con­venes next month.

AN AUTIS­TIC MAN who beat his mother to death has been found not guilty of her mur­der by rea­son of in­san­ity.

Bi­jan Af­shar (23) was ac­cused of the mur­der of his mother Lynn Cas­sidy (50) at her home in Deep­dales, Bray, Co Wick­low, on June 26 or 27, 2014.

He pleaded not guilty by rea­son of in­san­ity and the jury of six men and six women de­liv­ered a unan­i­mous ver­dict af­ter less than one hour of de­lib­er­a­tion at the Cen­tral Crim­i­nal Court.

Mr Af­shar, who beat his mother to death when she told him she couldn’t pre­vent the sale of the house he shared with his fa­ther, was com­mit­ted to the Cen­tral Men­tal Hospi­tal in Dun­drum.

Jus­tice Iso­bel Kennedy said Mr Af­shar should be ex­am­ined by an ap­proved med­i­cal of­fi­cer who will re­port to the court on his con­di­tion and on­go­ing treat­ment on June 8.

In his clos­ing state­ments to the jury de­fence coun­sel Michael O’Hig­gins said that this was a ‘very sad case with a sad back­ground nar­ra­tive’. He re­minded the jury that two con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trists had given their ex­pert opin­ion that Mr Af­shar was not in con­trol of his ac­tions and ‘un­able to re­frain’ from killing his mother at the time.

He said this case was un­usual in that both the pros­e­cu­tion and de­fence are in agree­ment and both urg­ing the same ver­dict.

Pre­sid­ing judge Jus­tice Iso­bel Kennedy said there was no ev­i­dence in the case that would re­fute the ex­pert wit­nesses. She added that while the jury is free to come back with a ver­dict of guilty of mur­der or not guilty of mur­der, any find­ing other than not guilty by rea­son of in­san­ity would be ‘open to crit­i­cism’.

The trial heard ex­pert tes­ti­mony from con­sul­tant foren­sic psy­chi­a­trist Dr Brenda Wright, who said Mr Af­shar lost con­trol be­cause his con­di­tion meant that he could not cope with the stress of any change in his en­vi­ron­ment or rou­tine.

The fol­low­ing day he was due to move out of the house he had shared with his fa­ther and brother for most of his teenage and adult life and this prospect made him sui­ci­dal. He tried to con­front his mother, to get her to halt the sale, but when she said she couldn’t he lost con­trol and killed her.

She said: ‘At the time he was un­able to re­frain from com­mit­ting the act be­cause of his men­tal dis­or­der.’

De­scrib­ing the his­tory of his con­di­tion, Dr Wright said that Mr Af­shar’s autism was di­ag­nosed late be­cause he had rel­a­tively good speak­ing skills and at­tended a small pri­mary school where his so­cial skills were not tested. How­ever, once he en­tered his teens and his peers started to de­velop more com­plex re­la­tion­ships he be­came with­drawn and shy. His con­di­tion was also ef­fected by his par­ents’ sep­a­ra­tion in 2008.

His con­di­tion got worse as the years con­tin­ued and af­ter per­form­ing poorly in his Ju­nior Cert ex­ams he re­fused to go back to school. He be­came ob­sessed with com­puter games and a blog he had cre­ated that had about 5,000 fol­low­ers.

He re­fused to shower and would wear the same clothes for days or even weeks. Al­though he had by then been di­ag­nosed with autism, his par­ents found it dif­fi­cult to get him to en­gage with the treat­ment ser­vices avail­able.

By the time he turned 18 his rou­tine had set­tled down and he was rel­a­tively calm al­though he was ob­ses­sive and hated any change. He be­came vi­o­lent on one oc­ca­sion when his par­ents re­dec­o­rated his room with­out his per­mis­sion.

He tore the cur­tains off the wall and cut up a couch with a knife. He was also ob­sessed with his diet, eating only or­ganic food and spend­ing hours re­search­ing the ben­e­fits and im­pacts of var­i­ous di­ets.

All this, Dr Wright said, was in keep­ing with be­hav­iour as­so­ci­ated with autism. His so­cial skills de­te­ri­o­rated and on one oc­ca­sion, when left to look af­ter him­self while his fa­ther Mo­hammed trav­elled to Iran, he was dis­cov­ered ly­ing in bed in his own fae­ces. Things got worse when he learned that he would soon be mov­ing out of the house he had shared with his fa­ther and brother for most of his teenage and adult life.

The house had been sold as a re­sult of his par­ents’ sep­a­ra­tion and they were due to move out the day af­ter Mr Af­shar fa­tally at­tacked his mother.

Dr Wright said the prospect of the move caused Mr Af­shar great dis­tress. She said this kind of re­sponse was of­ten seen in peo­ple with an autis­tic dis­or­der as they had un­rea­son­able re­ac­tions to any change in rou­tine or loss of con­trol over their en­vi­ron­ment.

She said that he came to the con­clu­sion that there were only two so­lu­tions to this prob­lem. The first was to con­vince his mother to pre­vent the sale. Fail­ing that, he would kill him­self.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view with Dr Wright he said he had thought about trav­el­ling to Howth to throw him­self off a cliff. On the night his mother died he went to her house to tell her the move was caus­ing him great anx­i­ety and that he was feel­ing sui­ci­dal.

He be­came frus­trated when he felt that his mother was not tak­ing him se­ri­ously, or didn’t be­lieve him when he said he was think­ing of killing him­self. He said her re­sponses seemed ‘ro­botic and pre-pro­grammed’. His feel­ings were hurt. She said his ‘poor emo­tional reg­u­la­tion’ as a re­sult of his dis­or­der caused him to lose con­trol.

Dr Ea­monn Mul­laney gave ev­i­dence for the pros­e­cu­tion and told the court that he agreed that Mr Af­shar could not con­trol his ac­tions when he at­tacked his mother. When the ver­dict had been read out Mr Af­shar’s fam­ily shook hands with the pros­e­cu­tion and de­fence coun­sels and left the court.

The late Lynn Cas­sidy.

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