Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Eoin Reynolds

Friends of Christina Anderson were worried about her state of mind in the weeks and days before she stabbed a man to death after he had parked in her parking space, the Central Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.

Maria McCormick told Ms Anderson’s murder trial that she received messages from the accused that were “laden with conspiracy theories” and that didn’t seem like they were sent by her. She thought her friend was unwell and was shocked when she heard that Ms Anderson had stabbed a man to death one day after their last message exchange.

Ms McCormick’s partner Paul Dalton said that an email string sent by Ms Anderson seemed out of character, suggested she was paranoid, and some of what she said did not seem possible or connected to what was really happening. “We were very worried about her and worried about her state of mind,” he said.

Mother-of-three Christina Anderson (41) of Brownsbarn Wood, Kingswood, Dublin 22, is charged with murdering Gareth Kelly (39), who was stabbed five times as he tried to start his car outside Ms Anderson’s home on the morning of February 25th, 2020. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Opening the trial last week, counsel for the State Patrick McGrath SC said there is no dispute that Ms Anderson stabbed Mr Kelly and caused his death. The issue for the jury to decide will be her mental state at the time.

Highly valued

Ms McCormick told David Perry BL, for the defence, that she had been friends with Ms Anderson for many years, valued her highly and was “full of admiration for her”. One month before the stabbing the accused sent a group WhatsApp message saying: “In case I go missing, it’s the neighbours who did it.” She claimed that a lawsuit she was taking against one of her neighbours was “turning into a criminal one” and added: “It will be all over the media next year and they will be forced out.”

Ms McCormick said the accused sent further messages about criminal activity involving her neighbours, that she might go missing and her state of anxiety because of what she said was happening.

The witness knew Ms Anderson had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. On February 23, 2020, two days before the stabbing, Ms Anderson sent Ms McCormick a string of emails between the accused and her solicitor in which she wrote: “Just in case anything happens to me, I want justice, I want the truth to come out and the crooks to be exposed.”

She asked her solicitor for a bodyguard for her family because, she said, she couldn’t trust gardai. She described how she had been watching her neighbours and said: “Nobody believes me. I tried to tell mom and Mark [her husband] and they think I’m having a breakdown and won’t listen to me.”

They are going to destroy my world. I can’t let them rob me of that

She complained that someone was “controlling odours in the house” to drive her out and that she had found kinky, see-through underwear outside her home and that someone had left dead vermin at her door. She said: “They are going to destroy my world. I can’t let them rob me of that.”

The solicitor had responded to her emails saying that he was worried about her and telling her to arrange an appointment with her doctor. Ms Anderson responded: “OMG. You’re in on it too.”

Ms McCormick said she found the emails worrying: “They didn’t seem like her personality at all. I thought she was unwell.”

Ms McCormick asked Ms Anderson the following day how she was doing but her responses were “really confused” and disjointed.

Conversations about mental health

Mr Dalton told Mr Perry that he had a number of conversations with Ms Anderson over the years about her mental health. She was frank, telling him many things including that she suffered from hallucinations on occasions.

Mr Dalton also saw the email string and said he was “very worried” by it. Her WhatsApp responses to questions about the emails “didn’t tally”, he said and had “no relevance to what was in the email and didn’t even really connect to the message I had sent. It didn’t seem connected to what was going on.”

He also noticed that she had stopped using punctuation and was sending short, one-line messages that were not connected. She didn’t use greetings and was not talking about usual topics such as her children. He said he was “very concerned” by the exchanges.

Gda Erica Delaney told Mr Perry that she was the jailer at Clondalkin Garda Station from 9pm to 7am when Ms Anderson was detained following the stabbing. She said Ms Anderson refused to take medication, saying the doctor who had prescribed it was the devil and that the medication was poison. Gda Delaney said that at one point Ms Anderson was pacing back and forth in the cell with her hood up “throwing air punches in the cell”.

Shortly after midnight she asked to be brought to the toilet but once outside her cell she ran to the custody area and attempted to get out through a rear door. Gda Delaney described her as “frantically” pushing buttons and switches as she tried to open the locked door.

After 1am Ms Anderson removed all her clothing, complained about a bad smell coming from the toilet and stuffed tissue up her nose to block the smell.

At 4.30am the garda noticed Ms Anderson removing something from the toilet in the cell and when she went in to investigate found that she had taken washers and bolts from the toilet and placed them on the floor. She said she was “digging for treasure” and the garda noticed that her hands were “covered in dirt from having put them into the toilet”.

She later observed Ms Anderson cleaning the toilet with a sock and then wearing the sock around her head. Gda Delaney said that at no point during that night did she see the accused sleeping.

The trial continues in front of Ms Justice Karen O’Connor and a jury of seven men and five women.

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