Archive | May, 2008

Man Gets Life The Murder Of His Father

30 May

Man Suffering From *Antisocial Personality Disorder*

Gets Life for His Fathers Murder

By J. P. Anderson

A young man has been jailed for life for murdering his father at their home two years ago, after his mother had gone to bed.

Seamus Fitzgerald (21) was convicted of the murder of James Fitzgerald (56) in Lisgar, Baileborough, Co Cavan on January 8, 2006. The jury’s verdict was unanimous.

The prosecution said he killed his father to steal money to buy a car.

The Central Criminal Court heard that Seamus was a "loving child" but his attitude "changed completely" around the time of his Junior Cert, when he was 15.

His sister noticed this change "from growing up, loving and caring, involved with friends and drama groups" to being "very withdrawn" and "quite the opposite".

Seamus started sniffing glue and aerosols aged 11, and then began to smoke cannabis. He became prone to mood swings and aggressive behaviour.

Psychiatrists told the court that he suffered from Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD), resulting in "callous unconcern for the feelings of others and a disregard for social norms".

On the night of the murder, he was at home watching TV. He drank four cans of beer. His father and mother were in the kitchen, also watching television, after returning from their grocery store in Baileborough with around €4,000 in takings. Mrs Fitzgerald went to bed just after midnight.

The court heard that Seamus wanted to buy a car and had asked his sister for money. She told him she didn’t have that kind of money, and he said he might ask his father.

Seamus told gardai he got it into his head to kill his father while watching the film ‘Goodfellas’. Mr Fitzgerald Snr was asleep in the kitchen, upright in his chair. Seamus cut the flex from the telephone and attempted to strangle him with it — but Mr Fitzgerald Snr fell to the floor and the flex snapped. Seamus knelt over him and pressed his two thumbs against his Adam’s Apple.

He then dragged his father along a hallway toward his bedroom, and tried to take the body out the bedroom window. Unsuccessful, he dragged the him back into the hallway, got a knife and stabbed his father four times. He then got a hammer and attacked his father’s wedding-ring finger.

Ring

Seamus’s brother discovered his father’s body, with the knife embedded in his chest. The ring had not been removed from his bloodied and broken finger.

Seamus took money and a mobile-phone from the corpse, left home with his passport and got a lift to Navan — where he met a group outside Supermacs, drank Bacardi and took cocaine.

When they left, he lit a fire behind the cinema. The next morning, Seamus called the gardai in Baileborough and told them that he killed his father.

During interviews, Seamus told Gda Peter O’Sullivan that he "always had it in his head growing up to kill someone". The jury was told it had to decide whether he was suffering from a mental disorder which substantially diminished his responsibility for the killing.

Prosecuting counsel told Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins the family wanted the young killer to "receive treatment . . . because they’re concerned that he’s quite dangerous".

The court heard previously that Mrs Fitzgerald wrote to Minister of Health Mary Harney asking for help with Seamus, two years before her husband was killed. She was told to ask the Health Board.

"The same people we were at before. We got no help from the Health Board," she said.

Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins told Seamus that he was imprisoning him for life and that he would "recommend wholeheartedly that any appropriate treatment would be made available".

(HE grew up a normal, loving child).

But by the time Seamus Fitzgerald hit his teenage years, he had undergone a complete

personality change was abusing drugs and making his family’s life "hell on earth."

His father James, who would later be murdered at his son’s hands, tried to explain it away as ordinary teenage behaviour. But his mother Susan knew better.

From the age of 10, Seamus began to sniff glue. Two years later he had graduated to cannabis. His downward spiral would see him progress to ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.

Mrs Fitzgerald said the turning point came when he was 15. His behaviour went downhill and he became prone to mood swings and aggressive behaviour.

Desperation

In desperation, she wrote to Health Minister, Mary Harney, appealing for help. Instead, she received a letter telling her to go back to her local health board.

In February 2003, Seamus confided to the family’s GP he was worried he would kill someone or himself.

He would later admit to gardai: "I always had it in my head growing up to kill somebody."

On the night of the murder, January 8, 2006, Seamus had passed the evening, drinking cans of beer and watching ‘Goodfellas’ on television. At some point he decided he would kill his father.

The jury at his murder trial heard he suffered from an anti-social personality disorder that left him with a callous unconcern for others and a lack of guilt. However, a doctor said he still knew right from wrong.

Yesterday, that jury agreed and found him guilty of murder, rejecting the defence case that he was not guilty by reason of diminished responsibility.

(See related article *Antisocial Personality Disorder* on this page).

 

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Burma: Mass Evictions Of Cyclone Victims From Camps Starts

30 May

Burma: Junta Starts Mass Evictions from Cyclone Camps

By J. P. Anderson

KYAUKTAN, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar’s junta started evicting destitute families from government-run cyclone relief centres on Friday, apparently out of concern the ‘tented villages’ might become permanent.

"It is better that they move to their homes where they are more stable," a government official said at one camp where people have been told to clear out by 4 pm (10.30 a.m. British time). "Here, they are relying on donations and it is not stable."

Locals and aid workers said there were 39 camps in the immediate vicinity of Kyauktan, 30 km (19 miles) south of Yangon, being cleared out as part of the wave of evictions.

"We knew we had to go at some point but we had hoped for more support," 21-year-old trishaw driver Kyaw Moe Thu said as he trudged out of the camp with his five brothers and sisters, the youngest of whom is just 2-½ years old.

They had been given 20 bamboo poles and some tarpaulins to help rebuild their lives in the Irrawaddy delta, where 134,000 people were left dead or missing by Cyclone Nargis on May 2.

"Right now, we are disappointed," he said.

Four weeks after the disaster, the United Nations says less than one in two of the 2.4 million people affected by the cyclone have received any form of help from either the government, or international or local aid groups.

UPDATE Addition:

A ‘window of opportunity’ for political progress in Burma now exists, a former UN official has said.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, told the BBC that the cyclone crisis had helped achieve more active dialogue with the junta.

On Tuesday pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest was renewed.

Foreign donors condemned the decision but acknowledged that the donation of aid wouldn’t be affected by it.

Mr Pinheiro pointed out that the international relief operation could have positive ramifications for Burma’s future democratic development.

But he said this would depend on "the capacity to transform this humanitarian dialogue into a dialogue for transition".

He acknowledged that "terrible obstacles" to progress still existed inside the junta which he described as paranoid.

Local donors

A French ship carrying humanitarian supplies for Burma docked in Thailand on Wednesday.

The regime has prohibited the direct delivery of aid by foreign governments, so the United Nations will distribute the ship’s supplies.

But the Burmese government has said that local donors are free to take aid directly to cyclone victims.

State media said individual volunteers could go to any cyclone-hit areas and hand out supplies freely.

In recent weeks the authorities have been stopping private donors and taking their supplies for the army to distribute.

Some people inside Burma have described to the BBC News website their difficulties in distributing aid to the cyclone-affected areas.

On Burmese man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said his colleagues were prevented from distributing aid on 24 May.

"They were arrested on the way back to Rangoon…They needed to leave their trucks with them [the authorities]," he said.

Others, though, say have managed to send aid down south in the past week.

Meanwhile, international donors at a conference on Sunday pledged nearly $50m (£25m) to help relief work in Burma.

The amount pledged in aid was substantially less than the $11bn sought by the Burmese government, but some donors said money depended on foreign aid workers being allowed access to the Irrawaddy Delta disaster zone.

At least 78,000 people have died as a result of the cyclone that struck three weeks ago. More than 50,000 people are still missing.

Knife Crime: ‘Parents Are Responsible’

30 May

Knife Crime: ‘Parents Are Responsible’

By J. P. Anderson

The father of a man who led a gang that raped, tortured and stabbed to death a teenage girl, has told Sky News that parents must take more responsibility in preventing knife crime.

Tony Thomas’s son Adrian was jailed for life after he was found guilty of murdering Berkshire schoolgirl Mary-Ann Leneghan.

The gang of six men drugged, raped, tortured and stabbed the 16-year-old in Reading in 2005.

A friend of hers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was shot in the head at point blank range but survived.

Thomas was considered the ring leader and force behind the attack.

"Adrian was 10 when he first had troubles", Tony told Sky News.

"He was causing disturbances at school. He would leave home with his dinner money in a sealed envelope and arrive at school without it."

"By the time he was 12 he was thrown out of secondary school and sent to a special centre twice a week for just one hour and that’s all he did."

Tony didn’t live with his son, and he recognises that had a detrimental effect on Adrian’s upbringing.

"He was raised by his mum and she didn’t appreciate the role of a father", he said. "All she wanted from me was £100 a week. When I tried to chastise him she just undermined me."

But when I challenged him that he should have pushed harder for a greater paternal role, he rejected the idea that he neglected his duties.

"I did not neglect my duties; it came down to parental issues. If I took it on my own head to go round to the house I was at risk of abuse in front of my own child.

"I thought that the only way of asserting control would be through violence, and that to me was never an option. Adrian just didn’t want to know me."

When Adrian was 15 he was arrested for robbery.

"The investigating officer told me they had loads of CCTV footage of people having their mobile phones stolen", said Tony. "He said that Adrian was on all of it."

Tony believes that it was then a natural progression from street robbery to the point when Adrian murdered Mary-Ann Leneghan.

"It should have been nipped in the bud early on. When he murdered her, he was on probation for crack cocaine and heroin but nobody told me. I’ve thought long and hard and cried my eyes out over what happened."

Contrary to the negative reaction we’ve had from readers of this website to the Home Office initiative, Tony believes it is a step in the right direction.

"We’re getting round to addressing the problem, because now young people are getting involved in the process. . .”

Tony is now involved in Code 7, a South London based group that helps teenagers in trouble. He also teaches parents how to speak to their children.

"As a parent it’s all about taking 5 minutes, talking to your children, asking them about their issues. All kids have issues and often want to chat about them.

"But some parents allow children to come out of their homes with attitude and they’re not doing anything about it. The parents need to know that they have a responsibility. We can fix this."

(See previous articles on *Antisocial Personality Disorder* Delinquency* on this page).

Report Raises Concerns Over Mental Hospitals

29 May

Hiring Ban Hit Mental

Health Services Report

By J. P. Anderson

The Mental Health Commission has raised concerns over the suitability of several psychiatric hospitals in its annual report.

The Commission says many facilities need to be updated.

A recruitment freeze by the HSE last year has seriously impeded the delivery of mental health services, according to the Commission.

The condition of long stay wards in many large psychiatric hospitals remains poor, according to the Inspector of Mental Health Services.

In her annual report, Bríd Clarke says such hospitals are engaged in a running battle with damp, mould, falling plaster and peeling paint. She says wards are often drab and dirty.

Serious concerns have been expressed about six hospitals including, St Loman’s in Mullingar, St Davnet’s in Monaghan and St Ita’s Hospital in Portrane.

The inspector also claims that admission units in Navan, Bantry and the Mater Hospital fail to reach an acceptable standard of privacy, space and comfort.

The HSE recruitment embargo, which ran for four months at the end of last year, still impacts on the delivery of mental health services, the Commission says, and the development of services has been greatly impeded by ongoing recruitment difficulties.

There are around 460 unfilled posts in the mental health sector.

A lack of progress in implementing Government policy on mental health care is noted and the Commission criticised the fact that children are still being treated in inappropriate settings, such as adult-approved care centres.

Responding to this mornings claims from the Mental Health Commission a spokesperson for the HSE said that 10,000 people are currently employed in the mental health sector.

The spokesperson said the estimated 400 vacancies are not excessive.

A continuing recruitment campaign is ongoing and in the last number of weeks vacancies for psychiatrists have been advertised.

The HSE says a number of additional posts in the mental health area are to be advertised in weekend newspapers.

The spokesperson has also said that at present there is no recruitment embargo in place within the HSE.

Burma Junta Enacts New Charter – Cyclone Victims Wait

29 May

Burma: Junta Enacts New Charter As

Aid Trickles to Cyclone Victims

By J. P. Anderson

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar’s junta announced Thursday that its new constitution had been "confirmed and enacted" after a referendum held earlier this month amid the devastation of Cyclone Nargis.

State television, reading a statement by junta leader Than Shwe, said that 92.48 percent of voters had endorsed the charter.

Voter turnout was 98.12 percent, it said, despite more than one million storm survivors still languishing without foreign aid after the storm ripped through the southwest on May 2 and 3, leaving 133,000 people dead or missing.

"The nationwide referendum confirmed and enacted the constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar," the statement said.

Earlier, Myanmar had said the constitution would only take effect in two years, once a new parliament convenes following planned elections.

Myanmar ignored international calls to focus on cyclone relief work and delay the referendum and ploughed ahead with the polls on May 10 and 24.

Nearly four weeks after Cyclone Nargis pummelled large swathes of Myanmar, foreign aid has still only reached 40 percent of the 2.4 million needy survivors, the UN says.

Myanmar’s isolated regime had largely barred foreign aid workers from the southwest Irrawaddy Delta, which bore the brunt of the cyclone.

Last Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had received assurances that the regime would grant access to all foreign relief workers, and aid agencies are slowly moving into Myanmar’s cyclone-ravaged delta.

Richard Horsey, spokesman for the UN’s emergency relief arm, said the situation was "tentatively positive", with international UN staff able to move into the delta after giving the regime 48 hours’ notice.

"We haven’t had any problems with visas for the last week to 10 days and yesterday (Wednesday) we were issued with the last of the 45 visas we were awaiting," Horsey said.

Several international aid workers have reported receiving travel approval for the delta in the last week, including six from the UN children’s fund UNICEF, five from World Vision and two from Save the Children.

Other groups were still waiting for the junta to live up to its promises.

"We want to move now. We have to move now. This amount of time after a disaster we should be providing water. It’s absolutely critical," said John Sparrow, Bangkok-based spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"Imagine the stress of a family with children living without proper shelter, without food and without medical care," he said, adding that most of their 30 foreign staff in Yangon were waiting for permission to go to the delta.

"The longer it goes on, the greater the suffering of the people."

And despite an apparent thawing in its stance on foreign aid, the regime launched a tirade against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, accusing the National League for Democracy of stoking unrest among storm survivors.

"The NLD is attempting to incite the outrage of the victims and problems, and to make the public outrage go into riots," the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday.

The NLD, which won 1990 elections but was never allowed to govern, had urged people to vote against the new constitution.

The regime has said the charter will pave the way for elections in two years, but detained Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters say the charter will only entrench military rule.

Aung San Suu Kyi, whose house arrest was extended for one more year on Tuesday, will be barred from running for office under the new constitution, which reserves 25 percent of seats in parliament for the military.

The generals will also have broad powers to declare a state of emergency and seize direct control of the government.

Meanwhile, volunteers returning from cyclone-hit areas said tragic scenes remained, with dead bodies still rotting in the fields, and villagers relying on survival skills in the absence of outside help.

"They rebuilt small huts, took off clothes from dead bodies, found drinking water from the rain or from other villages — most of the survival work was done on their own," Myo Thant, who has been delivering private supplies to the delta, told AFP.

Graphic Ads Target Knife Crime

29 May

Graphic Ads Target Rise In

Knife Crime

By J. P. Anderson

Horrific photos of real stab wounds are being used in a new campaign against knife crime.

The graphic images feature in "viral" internet and mobile phone adverts.

One shows a man with a Swiss army knife and a screwdriver sticking out of his chest.

Others show exposed intestines which have emerged from a knife wound, a leg which has become gangrenous after a knife attack, the hand of a victim whose thumb has been severed and deep wounds to the bone.

The campaign hopes to drive home the message that people who carry knives are more likely to become stab victims.

The real images from a medical photo library appear as slides being used to illustrate a fictional medical lecture – accompanied by a script which was overseen by a trauma surgeon.

The two-minute scene is accompanied by a second viral advert depicting "CCTV" footage – performed by actors – of a knife stabbing on a shopping street.

Both sequences will be distributed through social networking websites such as Bebo and on mobile phones.

Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokesman on knife crime, Alf Hitchcock, said: "Knife crime causes massive grief and pain to both victims’ families and their communities.

"This campaign will encourage young people to realise that they should speak to one another, their parents and others around them for support.

"It should be remembered that you are more likely to be a victim of knife crime by carrying a knife, rather than a knife protecting you.

"Anyone caught carrying a knife is committing a serious offence and the police are being welcomed by local communities to stamp out this menace."

UPDATE:

The mother of a knife attack victim has rubbished a Home Office shock advert campaign to tackle the crime.

Ann Rock’s son, Christopher, was the target of an attack in 2006. The 21 year old was stabbed six times in an unprovoked attack outside his home in South Wales.

He nearly died after receiving wounds in the arm, back, lung and diaphragm – one narrowly missed his heart.

But Ann accuses the initiative that aims to prevent further such attacks of lacking weight.

"I don’t think it’ll do any good", she said. "It’s a waste of money. They should go to the grassroots and do something in the community.

"Something gritty, like taking them into hospitals to see the effects first hand.

"Kids will just laugh at this."

The Home Office campaign comes as a series of adverts. They are aimed at teenagers and were devised by teenagers.

A viral video shows bloody injuries sustained in knife attacks, and one postcard style advert carries an image of a hand mutilated by a knife.

Two radio adverts put across the emotional impact of such attacks.

Christopher’s attacker, 19-year-old Luke Witherstone, was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years in jail. Although Christopher survived, it has affected the way the whole family now live.

"I don’t like going out on my own now, even young girls come up to you and mouth off", said Ann. "When I was young we were terrified of the police, it’s not like that now.

"There’s no discipline anymore, you can’t even smack your children. But I don’t know what the government can do. Some of them come from pretty good families and they try and follow the gang. They think it’s big to carry a knife."

The new adverts will particularly target mothers, who will be encouraged to talk about the danger of knives with their children. Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said: "I am in no doubt about the importance of tackling knife crime and this is even starker following recent tragic events.

"Any incident involving a knife is one too many and we are determined to take tough action against those who carry them."

The adverts will be played from Monday and the postcards will be handed out to kids by teams on shopping streets.

Dewsbury: Four Charged With Amar Murder

29 May

Four Charged With Amar Murder

By J. P. Anderson

Four people have been charged with the murder and robbery of teenager Amar Aslam.

One man and three boys will appear at Dewsbury Magistrates Court charged with killing the 17-year-old, who died in Crow Nest Park in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, on Sunday.

Three juveniles arrested have been released on police bail pending further inquiries, police said.

A post-mortem examination revealed Amar died of head injuries.

The tragedy has "shattered" the dead teenager’s family, his sister said.

In a statement issued through the police, Samreen Aslam said: "Nothing can replace our brother and we still believe he will come through the door.

"This has shattered our family and it won’t be the same without him. There will always be a gap where there is a part missing.

"He always kept himself to himself, was well liked by others and was always thinking of others. I remember that he had a lot of time for the youngsters and always used to play with his nephews and nieces.

"The older generation in the community also got along with Amar and he often spoke to people in the street. He was always respectful of his elders."

Amar was found in the park’s walled garden by two members of the public who rang for an ambulance.

ALSO:

A 17-year-old accused of murdering schoolboy Rhys Jones is to appear in court.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will appear at Liverpool youth court via a video link.

The case is expected to be committed to Liverpool Crown Court.

Rhys was shot dead last August as he walked home from football practice.

The 11-year-old died in his mother Melanie’s arms in the car park of the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth, Merseyside.

Six others have been charged in connection with the murder and are already due to appear before the Recorder of Liverpool, Henry Globe QC, at the Crown Court next Monday.

They are James Yates, 20, of Dodman Road, Croxteth, Gary Kays, 25, of Mallard Close, and Melvin Coy, 24, of Abbeyfield Drive, both West Derby, Liverpool, as well as a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, who cannot be identified.

They are all charged with assisting an offender.

A second 16-year-old is charged with assisting an offender and possessing a firearm and ammunition.