Jury is given more time to decide if mentally ill man killed own father
A jury could make a decision today in the case of a man who is alleged to have killed his father after claiming he was a detective restraining a dangerous criminal.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for over two hours yesterday in the case of Stuart Alexander Reid.
Earlier this week the Belfast Crown Court jury was told that 39-year-old Reid was "mentally unwell'' and would not be attending the trial arising from the death of his 63-year-old father Ronald Reid.
The victim was found dead by police in his flat at the Savoy Apartments on the Donaghadee Road in Bangor, Co Down, on Christmas Eve, 2014 - three days after his was son was arrested for disorderly behaviour at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.
The jury was told that given the "unusual" nature of the case and Mr Reid's "mental disability", they would not decide on whether he was guilty of murder or manslaughter, but whether or not he had "committed the act", resulting in his father's death.
Before retiring to consider their deliberations, trial judge Mr Justice Colton said that they had "one simple question to answer: did Stuart Reid kill his father?''Just before 5pm, the jury sent a note to the judge saying they were unable to reach a decision at this stage.
Mr Justice Colton told the jury that he would allow them to go home and return today to continue their deliberations.
But he warned them not to discuss the case with anyone, or each other, telling them to "put the case out of your minds'' until they returned again to the jury room.
At the start of the three-day hearing, prosecution QC Toby Hedworth had said that in the weeks and days leading up to Ronald Reid's death "there were a number of incidents demonstrating that Stuart Reid was behaving in a bizarre and irrational way".
The court heard that in one instance a "clearly intoxicated and agitated" Reid claimed he "could not trust his mother because she was a clone and he was working for MI6 and the Marines in west Belfast". Mr Hedworth said that on December 19, 2014, which he said was the day Ronald Reid died, the accused made a series of 999 calls, with the emergency services also calling him back. However, the prosecution lawyer said that what operators heard during the taped calls was "radically different" from that later uncovered when the calls were analysed by police, and then by a forensic speech expert at the University of York using specialist equipment.
They revealed that on occasions Ronald Reid was heard in the background breathing and coughing, or attempting to shout out his address, or saying his "son is a psychopath... he's trying to kill me... he's leaning towards me".
Mr Hedworth said what the operators heard was the accused claiming initially to be "Detective Inspector Reid" with a "violent dangerous criminal here and I am restraining him".
A post-mortem revealed Ronald Reid had suffered multiple injuries to his rib cage. His voice box was also injured.
Mr Hedworth said it was the prosecution's case that a "clearly unwell Stuart Reid", who apparently got on well with his father, had for some unknown reason "needed to detain his father and subjected him to considerable violence from which he died".
But defence QC Charles McCreanor reminded the jury that four witnesses claimed to have seen Ronald Reid on December 22, 2014, including a member of staff and a number of residents from the fold where he stayed.
"They are honest people who came here to say what they saw that day and they were definite in what they saw,'' added Mr Creanor.