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Man charged with patricide placed under psychiatric care

John Biggins
33-year-old John Biggins of Wallpark, Glencorrib arrives at Ballina District Court last Tuesday morning.?Pic: Hany Marzouk

South Mayo man charged with murder under psychiatric care

Edwin McGreal

The man charged with the murder of his father in south Mayo is currently receiving treatment at the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.
John Biggins (33) of Ballynalty, Cross, Claremorris, Co Mayo appeared before Ballina District Court on Tuesday last charged with the murder of Tom Biggins in the vicinity of the family farmhouse the previous Sunday. He was living at home with his parents, Tom and Kathleen.
After a short hearing in Ballina, John Biggins was remanded in custody to appear at Harristown Remand Centre, Castlerea, Co Roscommon on Friday morning. There he was remanded in custody to Cloverhill District Court on May 25.
The origins of the incident are, as yet, unclear but what is known is that Tom Biggins died from gunshot wounds at 4.30pm on Sunday at University Hospital Galway following an incident at the family farm at approximately 2.15pm. Two spent shotgun shells were found at the scene and the gun used was registered in the name of Tom Biggins.
John Biggins was arrested at the scene and taken to Claremorris Garda Station for questioning. He was formally charged with murder on Monday night, May 7 at 10.21pm. Detective Sergeant James Carroll told Ballina District Court that when cautioned if he had anything to say, John Biggins replied: ‘I have nothing to say’.
Seán Foy, solicitor for John Biggins applied to Judge Denis McLoughlin to direct that the defendant obtain the appropriate medical treatment that is deemed necessary in prison.
He said he was asking for this because the defendant has been under ‘constant medical care’ for the ‘last number of years’, both as an impatient and ‘continually as an outpatient’.
Judge McLoughlin directed that Mr Biggins receive the appropriate medical treatment and remanded him in custody.
The Mayo News understands that John Biggins has a history of psychiatric illness, having being both a long-term and short-term patient in Ballinasloe and, latterly, as an outpatient. He had gone missing for close to a week in recent years, before being found up the country, one local told The Mayo News.
John Biggins was brought into court by two plain clothes Gardaí at 10am last Tuesday morning and sat at the back of the court. Up to a dozen family and friends were in court with him and shook his hand before the hearing began.
During the short hearing, John Biggins stood in silence in the middle of the courtroom. Wearing white runners, jeans and a navy jumper with a blue top draped over his shoulders, he looked at the ground as Detective Sergeant Carroll gave evidence. Locals around the villages of Cross and Glencorrib have described Tom Biggins as ‘very well got’ and ‘a very hard-working and respected farmer’. Cllr Damian Ryan, a local member of Mayo County Council, said that the fact that it is Tom Biggins’s son who has been charged has added to the sense of shock locally.
“A lot of people are not saying a lot about it because of the nature of the killing, that it was family- related. It makes it all the more tragic. It is a desperate tragedy to happen in any area. I convey my deepest sympathies to the family,” he said.
He added that John Biggins had worked in a variety of farm and livestock related jobs before returning to work on his family’s large dairy farm at Ballynalty in recent years.
After a wake at the family home in Ballynalty on Wednesday, the Funeral Mass for Tom Biggins took place on Thursday morning where huge crowds turned up to sympathise with the Biggins family. Tom Biggins’s burial took place afterwards in Moyne Cemetery, just inside the Mayo-Galway border.
Poignantly, at the wake Tom’s wife Kathleen asked people to ‘pray for John’, a local told The Mayo News.
“She was grieving for her husband but her son was very much in her thoughts too,” said the local.

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