The Central Criminal Court has heard chilling evidence in the trial of Deirdre Morley, a mother of three who is alleged to have murdered her children last year.
Morley (44) has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder of Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla McGinley (3) on January 24, 2020.
Shane Phelan of Independent.ie reports that the bodies of the three children were discovered by their father, Andrew McGinley, with prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor saying “there is no issue as to what happened and how the children died.”
Morley, who had previously suffered from mental health problems and spent time in St. Patrick’s Hospital following a breakdown, told Gardaí following the children’s deaths that they were “damaged” as a result of her parenting and she therefore thought it best to take their lives.
The nurse, who had tried to kill her children by placing morphine and Tylex in their food and drink the day before their deaths, planned to take her own life after killing them by jumping from an overpass or using rope she had bought in a nearby shop.
Whilst Lawlor told the court that Morley was in a “good marriage” that had its challenges in 2019, it had been wrongly assumed that the accused’s mental health had improved by early 2020.
With Andrew McGinley on a work trip to Cork on the day in question, Darragh was the first child to be killed.
The 7-year-old, who was not sent to school that day, was in a living room tent when his mother entered, placed a bag over his head and said “sorry” as he suffocated to death.
After dragging his body to an upstairs room, Morley then eventually killed her daughter Carla on the second attempt at suffocation.
Conor was then collected from school before 2pm and bought a sandwich at Tescos with his mother, who was also called more than once by her husband to say he would be home that night.
“During the course of the phone calls, she behaved normally,” Det Sgt Kenny told the court.
Conor entered the play tent in the living room when they got home, but was then suffocated by his mother, who left his feet protruding from the tent.
Morley, who then took a significant quantity of drugs, drove her car towards the N7 road before crashing at 5.35pm near an overpass between Newcastle and Rathcoole, Co. Dublin.
A passing nurse took her home, but Morley then called a taxi to take her back to the overpass, where another taxi driver saw her in a state of distress and, after she passed out on their way home, called an ambulance.
Mr McGinley however arrived home at 7.21pm and “entered the house along with ambulance crew and fire brigade staff,” according to Det Sgt Kenny.
McGinley found his son Conor first in the tent, and forced his way upstairs past the ambulance crew who had found his two other children.
“The level of distress was extraordinarily high for obvious reasons,” Lawlor explained.
Morley’s note left at the bottom of the stairs read: “Don’t go. Front room. Upstairs. Phone 911. I am sorry.”
A note beside Conor read: “I am so sorry. I see no future with disturbance and mental illness. I had to take them with me. It is my fault. I am broke and couldn’t be saved or fixed.
“I have love and support. But I couldn’t continue to live with myself. I am so sorry.”
The jury are to hear from two consultant psychiatrists who will present evidence indicating Morley had a mental disorder.
In order to be found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity, the defence will have to prove Morley did not know what she was doing, didn’t know her actions were wrong, and that she was incapable of refraining from the killings.