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High Court overturns bail as son accused of murdering mother (77) back in custody

Examination found no evidence of mental illness at the time of the murder, court told

The High Court has overturned bail granted for the son of a 77-year-old woman accused of her murder, with a judge describing the original decisions as “a most surprising result”.

A factor which contributed to the dramatic U-turn included a police disclosure that they now view the murder as premeditated and not spontaneous.

Barry Noone (45) from Ratheen Avenue, Cookstown, was arrested after friends alerted police to concerns for both he and his mother on June 19.

He was located first in a bedroom having overdosed and, upon coming round, stated: “I did not expect to wake up.”

In another room, officers discovered his mother deceased, lying on her bed with her Rosary beads carefully placed in her hands.

Noone told officers: “I murdered her.”

A post mortem revealed death was by neck compression.

In a letter found at the scene, Noone described returning from England in April to care for his mother after she underwent surgery, but he couldn’t go and didn’t want her struggling as “her crosses had become his crosses and he could no longer carry them alone”.

The grim discovery was made after East Midlands police contacted the PSNI following a report by Noone’s friend who believed he had harmed his mother and taken an overdose.

On entering the house, officers observed a notepad bearing the message: “Please don’t go in. Call the police. I’m so sorry. Barry.”

He gave generally ‘no comment’ replies to police but did say, “I accept my actions leading to my mother’s death. My mother and I were extremely close. I will never get over this … My mother relied on me. I came back to care for her. We tried to get carers but without success … I don’t have a future. I’m in living hell.”

The friend who alerted police later remarked: “The nicest person has done the most awful thing.”

Last week defence barrister Fintan McAleer told Dungannon Magistrates’ Court a psychiatric assessment recommended Noone “should be in a setting with emotional solace, guidance, advice and support”.

Opposing bail a detective constable said: “The defendant has attempted suicide and suffers from mental health issues. We can’t say how he will act at any given time. He presents a risk given his fragile state and the severity of offending. The occupant of a suggested address in Croyden has compassion, but would be uncomfortable with him there.”

Another friend offered his address in Tooting and, while feeling loyalty, expressed some concerns although felt these could be managed with psychiatric assistance.

The detective further disclosed preliminary analysis of Noone’s phone found internet searches for “matricide” and “how to commit suicide”.

“Police now believe this was not spontaneous and was premeditated,” she said.

The defence stressed Noone’s family fully support him and have offered cash sureties, adding: “The psychiatric assessment found no issue putting him or anyone else at risk. His suicidal thoughts have settled and he is no longer on medication.”

District Judge Michael Ranaghan granted bail to the Tooting address, remarking: “I don’t find any police objections to be made out. I don’t believe the defendant is a risk to others. That point makes no sense whatsoever.”

Bail was set at £1000, with two sureties of £1000 each.

A prosecuting lawyer advised this would be appealed at High Court, which took place on Monday.

Opposition was re-stated with the prosecution noting the friend in Tooting is currently recovering from major surgery.

She contended Noone should have taken alternative steps to seek help if he was struggling but, within a short time after coming to assist his mother, “he murdered her”.

Defence counsel disputed concerns around internet searches for matricide, adding: “The risk that term posed is particular to one person who sadly is now deceased. It doesn’t increase the risk to anybody else.”

However, Mr Justice McAlinden held the psychiatrist did not find Noone to be suffering from mental illness at the time of the murder, therefore, “I have no hesitation in reversing the decision of the District Judge, because of the clear risk to others.”

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