A MENTALLY ILL woman who believed she was possessed by the spirit of Princess Diana and killed her housemate before cutting off his genitals to “protect Prince William” has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity at the Central Criminal Court.
Grace Miano (53) had been charged with the murder of Malawian man Limbani ‘Robert’ Mzoma (27) at Tudor Lawns in Foxrock, Co Dublin, on 1 November 2018.
The jury took just under two-and-a-half hours to reach their unanimous verdict today.
Miano, who is also known as ‘Margaret Sloane’, told the court on the first day of the trial on Monday that she was pleading “not guilty by reason of insanity”.
Justice Paul McDermott thanked the jury and excused members from jury service for a period of ten years.
At a previous hearing, a consultant psychiatrist told the Central Criminal Court that the accused was, in his opinion, “possibly the most floridly schizoaffected person” he had ever met.
Her defence counsel, Michael Bowman SC, yesterday told the jury that Miano on occasion “believed she was effectively possessed by Princess Diana, who came to tell her what she had done. She was not in her right mind, and claims that the day after [the killing], Princess Diana told her she was the one who did it,” he said.
Counsel had said that the delusions were “as real as they could be to her” and added that the medical opinions were “all one way”.
The trial has heard from consultant psychiatrists that Miano told gardaí that she killed Mzoma to “protect Prince William” and had cut off his genitals after death “to protect women”. She also told psychiatrists that she had been inhabited by the spirits of Princess Diana and other British royals to stop a plot that would have put Prince William and Prince Harry in danger.
After the verdict was delivered, Mr James Dwyer SC said that the State’s application was for Miano to be examined at a designated centre for 14 days to see if she is in need of inpatient treatment.
Mr Justice McDermott granted the application and remanded Miano to reappear at the Central Criminal Court on 11 October for the production of a psychiatric report.
The judge extended his condolences to Mzoma’s family who “suffered greatly with the loss of a valued member of their family”.
In his charge to the jury this morning, Justice Paul McDermott said that the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity was open to the jury. The judge said that both the defence and prosecution consultant psychiatrists had told the court that this was the appropriate verdict to return.
Mr Justice McDermott said to the jury of seven men and five women that if they were satisfied that Miano killed Mzoma, “then you have to consider the state of mind of whether or not she intended to kill or cause serious injury”.
Mr Justice McDermott said that there were three criteria under which a person might be found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity according to the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act of 2006.
Firstly, he said, was the question of whether or not the person knew the nature and quality of their actions, secondly whether that person did not know what they were doing was wrong and, finally, if the person was unable to refrain from committing the act.
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The judge told the jury that only one of the three criteria was needed for the accused to be considered for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. He said that both psychiatrists agreed that Miano qualified under two criteria: that she did not know what she was doing was wrong and that she was unable to refrain from her actions.
The judge said that if the jury was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt with the evidence of the medical experts in the case that Miano was operating under a mental disorder then the law recognises that it does not require a conviction regarding a criminal offence.
He said the accused person has a burden to established that they were insane at time, “in that she did not have the capacity to commit murder, as it is claimed she lacked that capacity because of her illness to have responsibility for those acts”.
He told the jury that both psychiatrists independently concluded forms of paranoid schizophrenia as a defective disorder affecting Miano.
“They do not differ that the accused was suffering from, at the time, paranoid schizophrenia,” he said.
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