Jury in Deirdre Morley trial to continue deliberations on Thursday

Judge had told jury there was ‘no contest’ as to what the verdict should be

The jury in the trial of Deirdre Morley, who has been charged with the murder of her three children, is to continue its deliberations on Thursday morning.

The jury retired to consider the charges at 3.35pm and returned to the court at 5.03pm.

The foreman asked the judge if he could give them more clarity on the three criteria that applied in cases where a person might be not guilty by reason of insanity, but the judge said that they could return in the morning, and he would do so then.

In his short charge to the jury on Wedneday afternoon, Mr Justice Paul Coffey had said that murder has to involve unlawful killing and the "intention" to kill or cause serious injury.


If the jury was satisfied that the evidence was that Ms Morley should not be held responsible for the killing of her children, then a verdict of not guilty for reasons of insanity should be returned, he said.

He said that “in this sad and tragic case” there was “no contest” as to what the verdict should be.

The court heard evidence from a psychiatrist that Ms Morley was “insane” on the day she killed her three children.

Dr Mary Davoren, who interviewed Ms Morley on March 31st and April 6th of this year in the Central Mental Hospital, said that in her view Ms Morley met two of the three criteria set out in the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, which deals with the law on being not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Under the law a person who has a mental health disorder and who meets one of three qualifying criteria, can be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

These are; not knowing the nature of the act; not understanding that the act was wrong; and not being able to refrain from the act.

Ms Morley (44) of Parson’s Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin, is charged with murdering her sons Conor McGinley (9) and Darragh McGinley (7), and her daughter Carla McGinley (3). She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The bodies of the dead children were discovered by their father, Andrew McGinley, in their home on January 24th 2020, the trial at the Central Criminal Court heard.

On Tuesday the court heard of how Ms Morley told gardaí in interviews on January 28th 2020 how she had suffocated the children because she was “overwhelmed”, wanted to end her life, and didn’t want to leave her children behind.

However her plan to kill herself before her husband, who was away for work reasons, had returned home, had not succeeded.

Dr Davoren, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, said that in her view Ms Morley, on January 24th, 2020, lacked the ability to appreciate the true nature of the act of killing her children and the options that were available to her, and that this affected her ability to appreciate that what she was doing was wrong.

She also said that in her view Ms Morley lacked the ability to refrain from doing what she did.

Responding to Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, for the prosecution, the psychiatrist said that Ms Morley, a nurse, told her she knew she was killing her children and that she had checked their pulses afterwards.

Dr Davoren told the court that it was her view that on the day the children died, Ms Morley was “insane”.

She said that during the interview on April 6th, Ms Morley was neatly dressed, her eye contact was normal, there had been no evidence of disorder of thought form, she was mildly tearful at times, particularly when discussing her children, and there was no evidence of clinical depression or elation. “She was planning for her future.”

Subsequent to her being admitted to the Central Mental Hospital, where she now resides, Ms Morley had been given anti-psychotic medication, the court heard.

On January 31st, 2020, Ms Morley was recorded as saying the medication was “a wonder drug” and that “if only I had had this last week, things would have been different.”

She was recorded by the hospital staff as saying the grief she was feeling was “unbearable” and that she wanted “a magic wand” to go back in time.

She could see now, the records recorded her as saying, that her “lads were fine” and that she had no need to have been worried about them.

“I don’t know how you learn to live with these things,” she was recorded as saying.

She was also recorded as saying that she wished she had “reached out” to family and to her husband and that she felt guilty about not having done so.

Ms Morley had “written numerous letters to her husband not intending to send them but to make sense of things,” the trial heard.

Dr Davoren said the accused had at times “masked” her symptoms in the period prior to the killings so that those around her would not know the seriousness of her condition.

The court also heard that Ms Morley, on the day of the killings, had considered not killing Conor, who she had collected early from school in Rathcoole, after she had already killed Darragh and Carla and placed their bodies on a bed upstairs.

In notes taken in Tallaght hospital in the week after the killings, Ms Morley was recorded as having said that killing Conor was “more difficult” as he was “being so good” after she’d brought him home from school.

She had considered dropping him over to someone, but then thought “things had gone too far, so she smothered Conor also.” He did not know his two siblings had been killed.

The court heard that Ms Morley had told another forensic psychiatrist that she began to think about killing her children three or four days before she did so.

Ms Morley told consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright that she had been sometimes troubled by stress because of work and other matters but that the relationship between herself and her husband had improved when she became pregnant with her first child.

“When there was a new baby, they were good times,” Ms Morley told the psychiatrist, who gave evidence to the court.

“He [Andrew] really loves kids. We really came together when we had kids,” Ms Morley said.

Dr Wright interviewed Ms Morley in the Central Mental Hospital, where Ms Morley now resides, on three dates in September 2020, for the purpose of the court hearing.

Asked about her decision to kill the children, Ms Morley told Dr Wright she thought it was “the right thing to do, the hard thing to do, but the right thing to do.”

Dr Wright said Ms Morley told her she had wanted to die but on Monday or Tuesday of the week when she eventually killed her children (on Friday, January 24th), she started to think of killing the children first.

She had two thoughts, she told the psychiatrist. She had to die but she couldn’t leave her children behind. And she had ruined the children’s lives by her bad parenting and her mental health difficulties.

“I just lost all hope for me and the children,” she told the psychiatrist, who said Ms Morley had a “major depressive disorder and was concealing the extent of her problems from those close to her.”

Ms Morley was hospitalised in July 2019 when she was diagnosed as having had a “depressive episode” but not as having suicidal thoughts or psychotic symptoms.

By November 2019, Ms Morley was diagnosed as having a “passive death wish” but no suicidal ideation. “I just want to evaporate”, Ms Morley had said at the time.

Out of work sick from her job as a nurse at the time in Crumlin’s children hospital, Ms Morley had been feeling “huge guilt” about the effect of her illness on her children, Dr Wright told Mr Bowman.

Ms Morley told Dr Wright she had met her husband in 2002, they had moved in together in 2005, and they had married in 2008.

“We wanted the same things. We slotted into each other’s lives from the start,” Ms Morley told the psychiatrist.

Ms Morley trained as a nurse and progressed well in her career, becoming a clinical nurse specialist in Crumlin children’s hospital.

However Ms Morley over the years prior to 2020 suffered episodes of stress and mental health difficulties.

She had first received counselling in 2009, the same year she began to suffer stress because of her concern for the children who were being cared for in the hospital.

She and her husband had attended couples counselling in 2019.

“I never stopped loving him,” she told the psychiatrist. “He was a really good guy.”

The court heard that she was “initially on cloud nine” after the birth of their first child, Conor, but she then became concerned about his routine.

“I was hard on myself. He was a good, happy, contented baby.”

Later, when talking about the birth of her third child, Carla, she told Dr Wright: “She was a really good baby, like the others.”

In October 2018 she began a course in Trinity College, Dublin, but became stressed and dropped out after a number of weeks.

Dr Wright said her view was Ms Morley had a “bipolar affective disorder”, or what the public might know as manic depressive disorder.

Between 1998 and 2017, Ms Morley had a number of periods of depressive episodes arising from stresses in her life.

From 2018, she appeared to have developed significant depressive symptoms, which deteriorated towards the end of the year.

She began to feel inadequate as a mother and wife and concerned that her problems were impacting on her children

In 2019, she began to experience suicidal ideation, leading to her first admission to hospital. From November 2019, her condition deteriorated again.

In December 2019, she began to express the belief that her illness was damaging her children, Dr Wright said.

Ms Morley had become delusional, and began to have false, fixed beliefs that were not amenable to reason.

In his summary to the jury, Micheal Bowman SC, said that Ms Morley and Mr McGinley had been “utterly committed to the welfare of their children” and had “loved them very, very deeply.”

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Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent