Woman found guilty of murdering partner in Co Louth

Paula Farrell (47) convicted of offence for second time after initial outcome overturned

A Central Criminal Court jury has found Paula Farrell guilty of murdering her partner, who she fatally stabbed during a drunken row. Photograph: Collins.

A Central Criminal Court jury has found Paula Farrell guilty of murdering her partner, who she fatally stabbed during a drunken row. Photograph: Collins.


A woman has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of murdering her partner by stabbing him during a drunken row — the second time she has been convicted of this offence.

Paula Farrell (47), of Rathmullen Park, Drogheda, Co Louth, was found guilty of the murder of Wayne McQuillan (30) at her home on January 1st, 2014 by unanimous jury verdict. She had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

The jury rejected Farrell’s defence that she was provoked after she claimed Mr McQuillan sexually assaulted and began to strangle her with his hands when she refused to have sex with him.

The defence argued that if there was a reasonable possibility that Farrell had acted due to provocation, then the jury must find her guilty of manslaughter.

The jury instead accepted the State’s case that the mother-of-three had intended to cause “at least serious injury” to Mr McQuillan when she picked the largest knife from a knife block in the kitchen and stabbed him four times.

In his closing speech, prosecution counsel Gerard Clarke SC called the sexual assault allegation “an outrageous lie” that was made against a man who could not give an alternative account of events.

Mr Clarke submitted that the sexual attack allegation was first made by Farrell 16 months after Mr McQuillan’s death. She had told gardaí in her interviews that nothing sexual had happened between them on the night.


The trial heard evidence that Farrell told onlookers not to call an ambulance when Mr McQuillan collapsed outside her house following the attack.

This was Farrell’s third time being tried for murdering Mr McQuillan. She first went on trial in July 2015 and was given the mandatory life sentence after she was found guilty of murder. However, the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in June 2018 over the trial judge’s decision not to allow the partial defence of provocation to be considered by the jury. A retrial was ordered and a jury failed to reach a verdict last July.

Farrell gave evidence that Mr McQuillan had tried to strangle her because she did not want to have sex with him before she stabbed him. “I thought I was dying, I couldn’t breathe,” she told her barrister Caroline Biggs SC.

Former deputy State pathologist Dr Michael Curtis testified that he found four stab wounds on Mr McQuillan, one to the upper right arm, one to the front of the chest and two wounds to the left shoulder. He said Mr McQuillan could potentially have survived had he received prompt medical intervention.

The 11 jurors spent four hours and 55 minutes deliberating over two days before finding Farrell guilty.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott thanked the jury for their engagement in the process, for staying with the case and the careful consideration they had given it.

He said the trial had been difficult in its content and nature but the circumstances in which they had served as jurors was “unique and unprecedented” due to the “crisis developing” outside the courtroom. He excused them from further jury service for life.

Members of Mr McQuillan’s family wept when the verdict was announced by the court registrar. Farrell did not react to the outcome.


In a victim impact statement read to court by Mr Clarke, the deceased’s sister, Audrey McQuillan, said it would haunt the family forever to think that Mr McQuillan was killed by someone who should have loved and protected him as they had.

“His last moments on this earth were moments of pain and fear and we were not there to hold his hand and comfort him,” she said.

“Not only did Paula Farrell take our son and brother from us but she also took all those hopes and dreams. She took Wayne’s future and our future too.”

Mr Justice McDermott sentenced Farrell to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murder. The sentence was backdated to July 1st, 2015, when she went into custody.

He extended his condolences to the McQuillan family for their loss.