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Ireland Man believed that he was fleeing from a 'devil' at the time of fatal collision

11:35  05 december  2019
11:35  05 december  2019 Source:   independent.ie

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A MAN who believed he was fleeing from a “ devil ” who wanted to “possess” him , collided with a car in a head-on impact He was taken by ambulance to the psychiatric unit at University Hospital Limerick where he spent a number of days before being questioned by Gardai about the fatal collision .

A man who believed he was fleeing from a “ devil ” who wanted to “possess” him , collided with a car in a head-on impact He was taken by ambulance to the psychiatric unit at University Hospital Limerick where he spent a number of days before being questioned by Gardai about the fatal collision .

a man looking at the camera: 'Man possessed': Hans Schnotalla was in psychotic condition. Photo: Brendan Gleeson © Getty Images 'Man possessed': Hans Schnotalla was in psychotic condition. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

A man who believed he was fleeing from a "devil" who wanted to "possess" him collided with a car in a head-on impact, resulting in the death of the other driver, an inquest heard.

Hans Schnottalla (51), of Ballycarney, Clarina, Co Limerick, was not taking his medication for a previously diagnosed psychosis condition prior to the collision, on February 24, 2015.

Several witnesses told gardaí they saw Mr Schnottalla drive into the path of Patrick 'Sonny" O'Reilly's car, which had been stationary or almost stationary at the time.

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Mr O'Reilly (73), from nearby Ferrybridge, was making his way from school where he had dropped two grandchildren.

One witness said they saw Mr Schnottalla driving like "he was on a mission". Another said he looked "like a man possessed".

One man said Mr Schnottalla's car overtook him and continued on the wrong side of the road before colliding with the victim's car. Mr O'Reilly died at the scene.

Gardaí arrested Mr Schnottalla nearby. He was taken by ambulance to the psychiatric unit at University Hospital Limerick and subsequently charged with dangerous driving causing Mr O'Reilly's death.

A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity, in what was believed to be the first ever such verdict in the State in relation to a dangerous driving case.

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The trial heard Mr Schnottalla believed he was fleeing from a devil who wanted to possess him.

In her inquest deposition, Mr Schnottalla's wife Annette Langenbacher expressed concerns about her husband's behaviour before the collision.

Ms Langenbacher said her husband promised to start taking his medication again.

Mick Reidy, a Garda collision investigator, said it was possible Mr Schnottalla "could" have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Coroner John McNamara initially said he was going to record a verdict of accidental death, however after hearing a submission from Francis O'Reilly, a son of the victim, he returned an open verdict.

Francis O'Reilly argued in his submission Mr Schnottalla may have possibly been reaching for a mobile phone around the time of the collision.

Gda Reidy said he had no information as to whether Mr Schnottalla may have had a mobile phone in the car at the time.

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32% - My boyfriend is being charged with fleeing and eluding 3rd degree is it possible it could b lowered to the 4th degree since no one was hurt n the c..? 30% - Have a young man that was convicted of a felony can he still be accepted by job corp, also does he have to wait until all his court

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The coroner described Mr O'Reilly's theory as "a reasonable proposition".

Speaking afterwards, Mr O'Reilly said: "We've no answers. There's no closure.

"That man, I have no problems with him, he is an ill man.

"Hopefully he can be reunited with his family, I can't."

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