A man who allegedly murdered his elderly mother because he could no longer “carry the cross” of caring for her and then tried to kill himself cannot be safely released from custody for her funeral, a High Court judge has ruled.
Lord Justice Maguire rejected Barry Noone’s appeal against being refused compassionate bail after hearing he attempted to take his own life at the home in Cookstown, Co Tyrone he shared with 77-year-old Margaret Una Noone.
Citing concerns about the 45-year-old accused’s “volatile” mental state, he said: “It need only be emphasised that the applicant failed in his bid to commit suicide in the hours immediately after his mother’s death.
“It is for this principle reason that I feel obliged to refuse the application for compassionate bail.”
Police discovered Mrs Noone’s body in her bed at the Ratheen Avenue property last Sunday morning, with Rosary beads apparently placed carefully in her hands.
Her son was located in another bedroom, apparently having taken up to 30 pills hours earlier.
Officers went to the address after Noone allegedly contacted the emergency services to say he had done something to his mother.
In another call made to Lincolnshire Police, a man living in England reported receiving a two-page suicide letter from his friend Barry living with his mother in Cookstown.
Prosecution counsel Sarah Minford told the court: “It stated that he had killed his mother and taken an overdose."
When officers arrived at the property the blinds were closed, but on entering through the unlocked front door they found a notepad propped up on a hall table.
A message written on it said: "Please don’t come in. Call the police. I’m so sorry. Barry."
Searches led to Noone being located under the sheets in a bed upstairs, apparently under the influence of drink or drugs.
His elderly mother was discovered in another room, lying on her back in bed and displaying no sign of life, the court heard.
She appeared to have bruising to the side of her face and neck.
According to Ms Minford, when asked at the scene what happed to his mother Noone paused and then replied: “I murdered her.”
He also stated that he had taken 25 to 30 Diazepam tablets at around 3am on Sunday and did not expect to wake up.
Further examination of the notepad revealed a letter allegedly signed by the defendant, setting out how he had been unable to take any more.
Noone, who lived in London for 20 years, described the traumatic experience of looking after his mother since returning in April, and then having to isolate in his bedroom since contracting Covid on June 12.
He had fallen back into a deep depression and lost the will to live, the court was told.
He stated that his mother had been on long-term psychiatric medication, but he could not keep going or leave her to endure her struggles alone.
“Her crosses had become his crosses and he couldn’t carry them anymore,” Ms Minford added.
In a prepared statement provided later to police, Noone said: “I accept my actions caused the death of my mother.”
He described how they had a close, loving relationship, but that both had suffered mental health issues.
Opposing the accused’s compassionate bail application, the prosecutor cited concerns around his own suicidal thoughts and the potential reaction of the aider family at the funeral.
“That could cause grave upset and potential disorder,” she suggested.
Fintan McAleer, defending, told the court Noone had cared for his mother during treatment for cancer and while recovering from two separate hip operations.
The barrister insisted his client could safely released for a temporary period where he would be chaperoned by an uncle and a deacon from the prison.
“This man’s position is simply that he loved his mother and he wishes to attend her funeral,” Mr McAleer added.
But Lord Justice Maguire observed: “The sheer difficulty of the task of looking after this mother appears to have been a factor in his actions which resulted in his mother’s death, and it seems beyond question that the applicant’s plan was, in the aftermath of his mother’s death, to commit suicide.
“It appears there’s a real likelihood that the applicant is suffering from significant mental illness and is in a volatile mental state.”
With no prospect of police or prison guards accompanying Noone, he explained: “One is therefore left with the proposition that the good of others around him would be sufficient to provide the court with confidence that he would not himself commit damage upon himself were he to be released in the context of his current mental condition.”