Jury to resume deliberations tomorrow in Deirdre Morley trial

Jurors in the trial of nurse Deirdre Morley, who is accused of murdering her three children, are to resume their deliberations in the morning.

he jury went home for the evening after deliberating for an hour and 28 minutes this afternoon at the Central Criminal Court.

They had earlier heard evidence from two consultant psychiatrists, one each for the defence and the prosecution.

Ms Morley (44) has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and both psychiatrists gave evidence she met the criteria for such a verdict.

Before they broke for the evening, the jury foreman asked Mr Justice Paul Coffey if he could provide more clarity on the three criteria for a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.

The judge said he would deal with the question in the morning.

Ms Morley is accused of murdering her sons Conor McGinley (9) and Darragh McGinley (7) and daughter Carla McGinley (3) on January 24 last year.

The bodies of the children were discovered at the family home at Parson’s Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin, by their heartbroken father Andrew McGinley that evening.

During a two-day trial, jurors heard Ms Morley admitted to smothering the children using sticky tape, plastic bags and cushions while their father was away for the day on a work assignment.

She had planned on taking her own life too but passed out from medication and alcohol before she could.

Ms Morley, who had a long history of depression, later told gardaí she killed the children as she believed they had been damaged as a result of her mental illness and had no future.

There was considerable evidence Ms Morley was suffering from a mental disorder at the time and was delusional.

Before they went out to deliberate, Mr Justice Coffey told the jurors: “In this sad and tragic case there is no contest as to what the correct verdict should be. The evidence is all one way.”

The judge told them they had taken an oath to come to a verdict in accordance with the evidence.

Following evidence from the psychiatrists, Ms Morley’s counsel, Michael Bowman SC, told the jury the case was “a tragedy of enormous proportion” and they had heard of the extent of the guilt and loss Ms Morley felt.

He also said the loss and the pain for her husband and members of their families was “unimaginable” and they had carried themselves with great dignity.

Mr Bowman said the irony of the case was the Ms Morley was a paediatric nurse whose entire professional life was spent caring for children.

He said there had been evidence of how she had suffered from depression and anxiety even in her student years and this deteriorated over time to the extent that in July 2019 she required inpatient treatment.

Mr Bowman said the level of assistance she received from family and friends and the medical interventions she had received could not stop her from “slipping into delusion and psychosis in January 2020”.

He said the depth of that depression only became fully evident after the tragic events of January 24, 2020.

Earlier two consultant psychiatrists testified Ms Morley met the criteria for being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr Brenda Wright, a witness for the defence, and Dr Mary Davoren, who was called by the prosecution, both said they believed she fulfilled two of the three criteria under which it is possible for a jury to return that verdict.

It was only necessary for one of the three criteria to be present for such a verdict, the court heard.

Both were of the view Ms Morley has a mental disorder as defined in the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.

The court heard that once it has been established a person was suffering from a mental disorder there were three possible reasons why they could be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The first was that the person did not know what they were doing, the second was that they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong, and the third was whether they had the capacity to refrain from the act.

While both psychiatrists determined Ms Morley knew what she was doing, they found she did not know it was wrong and her ability to refrain from doing it was impaired.

Asked by prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC if in her professional view Ms Morley was insane at the time of the killings, Dr Davoren agreed it was.

She agreed with Mr Bowman, for the defence, that a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity would be an appropriate verdict.

Earlier, the court heard lengthy evidence from Dr Wright.

The consultant psychiatrist interviewed Ms Morley on three occasions at the Central Mental Hospital following the killing of her three children.

Under questioning from Mr Bowman, Dr Wright said in her view Ms Morley knew the nature and quality of her acts and knew they would result in the deaths of her three children.

“However, in my view, as a result of her disorder she did not know they were wrong,” Dr Wright said.

Dr Wright was giving evidence on the second day of her trial.

She said Ms Morley believed she had caused irreparable damage to her children through bad parenting.

She told Mr Bowman that Ms Morley met the criteria for a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The consultant psychiatrist said Ms Morley “believed her actions were morally right”.

“She believed she had damaged her children and had to end their lives,” Dr Wright said.

“She was unable to refrain from her actions.”

Dr Wright said Ms Morley’s thinking and judgment were “impaired to the extent she could not think of an alternative” to killing her children.

The court heard a considerable amount of evidence about Ms Morley’s medical history.

This involved recurrent bouts of depression, leading to her having breaks from work or having to work part-time.

A significant escalation occurred from July 2019, when she was admitted for a short period to St Patrick’s Hospital.

Dr Wright interviewed Ms Morley on three occasion in September and October 2020 and also had access to files on her medical history.

She told the court that in her view, Ms Morley’s illness at the time of the offences was “severe” and the intensity of her symptoms became unmanageable.

Dr Wright said Ms Morley developed delusions. These were “false fixed beliefs” about her children and her performance as a parent and that she was not amenable to reason.

The consultant psychiatrist said someone with these issues cannot be dissuaded from their delusion.

She said that despite the fact Ms Morley was reassured about her parenting, she could not take that on board and maintained feelings of “personal inadequacy, worthlessness and guilty”.

Dr Wright said she developed feelings of being overwhelmed, inadequacy in her role as a parent and wife and concerns her mental health was impacting on her children.

The consultant psychiatrist diagnosed Ms Morley with bipolar affective disorder and concluded she had attempted to conceal her difficulties from those close to her.

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