Mother accused of murdering three children was convinced she was ‘broken’, court hears

Deirdre Morley (44) has pleaded not guilty to murder by reason of insanity

A mother accused of murdering her three children became convinced they were "broken like me because I couldn't parent them", the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Deirdre Morley, of Parson's Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin, is accused of the murder of Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3) McGinley on January 24th, 2020.

The 44-year-old has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Central Criminal Court heard that she put morphine in bowls of cereal for her two older children on the evening before their deaths. She planned to sedate them before taking their lives and her own, but they spat the cereal out, the court heard.


The next day, she kept Darragh and Carla home from school and suffocated them. She collected Conor early from school and watched part of a film with him, before suffocating him in a play tent.

The court heard they were “fantastic children [who] were cherished by all who knew them” and were loved and cared for, but their mother believed they were damaged because of her psychiatric illness.

The court heard she told gardaí she believed her children were “broken like me because I couldn’t parent them”.

Prosecuting barrister Anne-Marie Lawlor SC told the court there was no issue about determining what had happened. “What we’re primarily concerned about is the mental state of Ms Morley.”

Ms Morley had been treated for a psychiatric illness in 2019. By December of that year, “everybody believed she was getting substantially better”, the court was told.

The court heard Ms Morley told no one that she was suicidal or “thought of taking the children with me”.

The court heard she was in touch with her husband Andrew McGinley and other family members throughout the day she killed her children, and gave no sign anything was wrong.

A note found beside Conor’s body 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 broken. I couldn’t be saved or fixed . . . I am so sorry.”

The case continues before Mr Justice Paul Coffey.

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Jennifer O'Connell

Jennifer O'Connell

Jennifer O’Connell is a feature writer and opinion columnist with The Irish Times