Morley and McGinley take medical negligence cases over children’s deaths

Husband says he is taking action because he needs to understand details around wife’s care

Andrew McGinley has taken a legal action against the Health Service Executive and others to "understand" why his mentally ill wife, Deirdre Morley, killed their three children and to get answers around her care.

Mr McGinley and his wife Ms Morley have filed separate medical negligence claims against the HSE, the governors of St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin and a named consultant psychiatrist.

Legal papers have been filed in the High Court against the same defendants just days before the second anniversary of the deaths of the couple's three children.

Last year Ms Morley, a paediatric nurse, was found not guilty by reason of insanity of murdering her three children Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3) at the family home in Newcastle, west Dublin, on January 24th, 2020.


She had been receiving treatment for mental illness at the time and attempted to take her own life after she killed the children.

Ms Morley’s trial found that she was suffering from a mental disorder when she killed her children. She has since been committed to the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

Depressive illness

She was diagnosed with a severe psychotic depressive illness and believed that her children had been “irreparably damaged” by her illness and her parenting.

Her trial heard evidence that she first raised concerns with psychiatrists in late 2018 that she had seriously damaged her children and that she continued to express such thoughts over the following year as her depressive illness became more serious.

The trial also heard she had hidden her condition from her husband and others.

Mr McGinley told The Irish Times that he has issued legal proceedings over alleged failings in the care of his wife and that the treatment she received should have been questioned.

He has argued that concerns about her mental wellbeing should have warranted breaching patient confidentiality so he could have been informed about the extent of her illness.

He said he first discovered from hearing the testimony at his wife’s trial that she had received different diagnoses and different medication during the course of her treatment.

Medical records

Ms Morley granted him access to her medical records but they were “heavily redacted” when they were released to him in September and they left him with “even more questions”, he said.

Mr McGinley said that a preliminary review had been completed into Ms Morley’s care but he had been told it could not be shared with him.

The HSE has said that an independent review into her treatment is ongoing.

“I need to understand why all of this happened and I am no closer to understanding and I cannot wait for a review that has taken nearly two years to set up,” he said.

“I want to know now why my children died. I know how they died. I know all the graphic details of their traumatic deaths but I am no closer to understanding why.”

The HSE said it could not comment on individual cases as it “might reveal information resulting in a breach of the ethical requirement on us to observe our duty of confidentiality”.

Mr McGinley said he and his wife’s separate legal teams would be working together. The linked cases are likely to be heard jointly before the High Court.

He has been campaigning for a reform of the Mental Health Acts to allow the families of people receiving mental health treatment to be included in the details of their care.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times