Paediatric nurse Deirdre Morley, who was found not guilty of the murders of her three children by reason of insanity, has been committed to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH).
A Central Criminal Court judge made the order on Tuesday morning, nearly three weeks after a jury returned the special verdicts following the trial of the 44-year-old clinical nurse.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey said Ms Morley continues to suffer from a mental disorder under the meaning of the legislation and is in need of inpatient care at a designated centre.
Ms Morley, of Parson's Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder of her sons, Conor McGinley (9) and Darragh McGinley (7), and her daughter, Carla McGinley (3).
The children’s bodies were discovered at the family home just before 8pm on January 24th last year.
On May 20th, Ms Morley was found not guilty by reason of insanity after a jury accepted the evidence given by two psychiatrists that the accused, who specialised in renal care at Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin, was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the three killings and fulfilled the criteria for the special verdict.
The two consultant forensic psychiatrists called as expert witnesses were both in agreement that the accused was unable to appreciate what she had done was morally wrong and was unable to refrain from her actions.
Following the verdicts, trial judge Mr Justice Coffey made an order committing Ms Morley to the CMH in Dundrum until May 31st so that an approved medical officer could prepare a psychiatric assessment.
The case was adjourned on that date to allow time for lawyers to consider the psychiatric report.
The matter was back before the court on Tuesday when defence counsel Michael Bowman SC told Mr Justice Coffey that the court had the report and both sides had read it.
Ms Morley, who did not speak during the hearing, appeared via video-link from the CMH.
Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Ronan Mullaney from the CMH, who conducted the examination on Ms Morley, also appeared on the video-link for the brief hearing at the Central Criminal Court.
Mr Justice Coffey said that Ms Morley had been found not guilty by reason of insanity on the three counts and he had previously directed that she be assessed by an approved medical officer.
“I’ve received and considered the report of approved medical officer Dr Ronan Mullaney including his findings,” he said.
The judge said he was satisfied that Ms Morley continues to suffer from a mental disorder under the meaning of the legislation and is in need of impatient care at a designated centre.
He then made an order committing her to the CMH for further inpatient care under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act.
Under the Act, Ms Morley’s condition will be reviewed every six months by the Mental Health Review Board.
Prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC said that Tuesday’s order now disposed of the case.
Ms Morley’s three-day trial at the Central Criminal Court was described by the State as “a desperately sad case”.
The case, Ms Morley’s defence counsel had told the jury, was a “tragedy of enormous proportions”, with the “tragic irony” of the accused being someone who had committed her entire professional life to the care of children as a paediatric nurse.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster found the children had died by asphyxia from compressions of the chest area and airways.
Dr Brenda Wright, called by the defence, gave a detailed description of the accused's mental state deteriorating in the weeks before the killing and said she was suffering with bipolar affective disorder at the time. The witness said the defendant believed it was morally right to smother her three children as she thought she had "irreparably damaged" them and "had to put an end to their suffering".
Dr Mary Davoren, for the prosecution, testified that the accused was suffering at a minimum from recurrent depressive disorder and experienced a severe depressive episode on the day.
In her opening address, prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC said the jury’s primary concern would be the accused’s mental state on January 24th and there was no issue in the case as to what happened to the children and how they died.