‘Act of insanity’ could have been prevented, says father of McGinley children

Andrew McGinley says family ‘need to understand’ how tragedy occurred

The grave of the McGinley children, Darragh, Conor and Carla,  in Newcastle Cemetery, Newcastle, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The grave of the McGinley children, Darragh, Conor and Carla, in Newcastle Cemetery, Newcastle, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

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The father of the three children killed by their mother, Deirdre Morley, has said what happened “was an act of insanity” but “we need to understand” how it occurred.

Ms Morley (44) was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3) McGinley.

The children were suffocated by Ms Morley on Friday, January 24th, 2020, in their home at Parson’s Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin, while Mr McGinley was away on business.

Speaking to The Irish Times last night in his Co Dublin home, Mr McGinley asked for the professionals who had been treating Ms Morley, prior to the children’s deaths, to sit down with him and the family and “try to provide us” with answers.

“It was an act of insanity, I’ve accepted that,” he said. “Certainly, I can see now, Dee, she didn’t want me to know the full extent of her illness... she wanted to put her best foot forward.

“For us as a family, we’re sitting in the courtroom, we were listening to the evidence from the two expert witnesses, and we’ve just ended up with more questions than at the start of the trial.”

He added: “I think the two parties needed to come together, the professional services and the support circle. I would be convinced had that happened, that Conor, Darragh and Carla would be alive today.”

In his darkest moments, what gave him hope, he said, was “thinking about the kids, and doing all these projects. Some days, the alarm goes off, and I try to keep a routine going, and what gets me out of bed is my love for them, quite simply.”

Morphine pills

Ms Morley had tried to sedate the children with a view to killing them on the Thursday evening, but the boys had spat out the cereal into which she had placed crushed morphine pills.

She had, that night, felt relief that she had not succeeded with her plan, and the two boys had slept with her in her bed, as a “treat”.

However, on the following day, with Darragh and Carla at home and Conor in school, she looked at the clock around midday and thought: “I could do it now. I think that is when something clicked with me.”

Ms Morley told gardaí, in statements taken on January 28th, what happened next. When her interviewer asked if she wanted a drink, she responded: “I just want them back.”

In his charge to the jury in the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said that “in this sad and tragic case” there was “no contest” as to what the verdict should be.

Two psychiatrists gave evidence that Ms Morley was insane on the day of the killings, did not know that what she was doing was wrong, and was not in a position to restrain herself.

The jury spent four hours and 23 minutes considering its verdict, and twice returned to seek clarity on the law from the judge.