Belfast Telegraph

Man in threat to kill his sister studied beheadings, court told

By Alan Erwin

A man accused of issuing threats to kill his sister and brother-in-law revealed how he researched beheading methods, the High Court heard.

Collum O'Neill told a hospital nurse he had carried out internet studies and planned to stab them to death, prosecutors said.

He is to remain in custody after a judge ordered a psychiatric assessment in a bid to help establish whether he poses any danger.

O'Neill (32) has been charged with two counts of making threats to kill over the incident on November 22.

He was arrested based on alleged comments made to a mental health nurse at the Ulster Hospital, on the outskirts of east Belfast.

Opposing his application for bail, prosecution counsel Conor Gillespie said: "He stated that he intended to stab to death his sister. He also further stated that he had researched methods of killing people online, (including) beheading." Mr Justice Weatherup was told O'Neill, with an address at Springfield Road in Belfast, later admitted making the threats but never intended to carry them out.

He claimed to have become "wound up" after questions about his family resulted in flashbacks, the court heard.

Mr Gillespie added that O'Neill allegedly admitted watching and enjoying programmes about beheadings, but only in relation to thoughts about killing himself.

"There's a fear he will carry out his threats," the barrister said. Conor Maguire, defending, set out his client's history of self-harm and suicidal tendencies, culminating in his admission to the Ulster Hospital after overdosing on paracetamol last month.

"He only referred to his sister and brother-in-law when asked by the mental health nurse about his family background," Mr Maguire stressed.

"That was a trigger to him, but he instructs that he never had any intention to carry out such an act."

Amid contentions that O'Neill may be suffering from a personality disorder, it was contended that he should not be kept in prison.

But adjourning the bail application, Mr Justice Weatherup said: "The immediate question is, is this man dangerous?"

The judge ordered that a consultant psychiatrist should carry out an assessment before any decision is taken.

O'Neill will remain in custody until the medical expert's report is completed.

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