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Defence in trial of Louth women charged with murder makes closing arguments

Paula Farrell
Paula Farrell

The defence counsel in the trial of a 42-year-old Louth woman charged with murdering her partner last year has told the jury in his closing speech that they have "ample scope for doubt in this case."

Paula Farrell with an address at Rathmullen Park, Drogheda, Co Louth is charged with murdering Wayne McQuillan (30) at her home on January 1, 2014.

Three weeks ago at the Central Criminal Court, Ms Farrell pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr McQuillan.

Called to give evidence last week by defence counsel Mr Derek Kenneally SC, the mother of three told the jury that she was sexually abused by a named man from the age of seven and did not tell anyone about it until she was 14 years of age.

Ms Farrell also previously gave evidence that she took to drinking at 14 years of age to "block" out being sexually abused for seven years as a child.

This morning prosecution counsel Mr Gerard Clarke SC said to the jury of seven women and four men that the alleged childhood abuse as outlined by Paula Farrell when she gave evidence last week is "little to do with the murder of Wayne McQuillan."

"It occurred because Paula Farrell's is an individual with a temper, who gives into acts of violence, who is capable of controlling her temper outside of her family and friends but who chooses not to control it when she is with her family and friends, that the prosecution say is the reality of this case," said Mr Clarke.

The barrister then said to the jury they have heard the contents of four memos given to the guards by the accused which says in them how it is usually her who started rows.

"That is the nature of Paula Farrell and it is nothing to do with what happened to her between 27 and 35 years ago," he added

The prosecution counsel then said that the killing of Wayne McQuillan which they say is murder was an "outburst of temper" and her "lashing out". 

"There was nothing to presume there was anything different on this occasion other than the lie, the lie that was told to you that she was raped by Wayne McQuillan. Look at the opportunities she had for telling somebody about it."

Mr Clarke said to the court that the allegation first arose when the accused saw Dr Kevin Lambe for the purposes of defending this case.

"It was first recorded by a report prepared by Dr Lambe and first told to him in April of this year, 16 months after the death of Wayne McQuillan. Of all the people Paula Farrell dealt with in the sixteen months before this lie emerged, nothing was said about this. She saw her solicitor a total of ten times according to custody records and there was no mention of this allegation that she had been raped," said the barrister.

"All I’m saying if you use your common sense you will see it is a lie and if there was any truth it would have been said at the outset," added Mr Clarke.

"Not only did she never tell the guards, she denied it when asked if anything sexual was involved, she said no. I respectfully suggest when you look at this evidence you should not believe the lie that Wayne attacked her sexually," he said.

Mr Clarke then put it to the jury how the defence were asking them to reach a conclusion that isn't justified and the prosecution say there is no link between post-traumatic stress and diminished responsibility. 

"They are saying because Paula Farrell suffered from post-traumatic stress this substantially diminished her responsibility for what she did. That’s the jump the defence are asking you to make, that post-traumatic stress automatically leads to diminished responsibility and it doesn't.  The reason Wayne ended up dead was because Paula Farrell was drinking and that’s not an excuse in law," said the barrister.

"One further matter the defence will raise is the suggestion that the killing of Wayne was done in circumstances of self defence. We say that the evidence cannot amount to self- defence," said Mr Clarke.

After lunch in his closing speech defence counsel Mr Kenneally told the jury if they have any doubt they must acquit and if they accept what Ms Farrell says could possibly be true, they must give her the benefit of the doubt.

"There is nothing simple here about this case as my friend raises, he suggests to you that her history of childhood sexual abuse is really not relevant, an inference of some sort of rouse to elicit sympathy which it is not relevant. It is relevant," said the barrister. 

Mr Kenneally put it to the jury was it really so impossible to accept that Ms Farrell simply did not want to believe what had happened that night. 

The barrister put it to the jury that Paula Farrell told them she did not want to believe what had happened in terms of sexual violence because of what had happened her previously as a child. 

"Criticising her for not telling gardai about the sexual violence does not mean it didn't happen," said the defence counsel.

"Its canvassed by the prosecution that Paula Farrell was a liar who engaged in an elaborate and cunning scheme late in the day but how does that go with what you saw and heard when she gave her evidence to you. Are you really satisfied that she is such an accomplished actress? Ms Farrell did not intend to kill Wayne or cause him serious harm and she repeatedly and emphatically denies this," he said. 

In conclusion Mr Kenneally put it to the jury if having heard and assessed all of the evidence and witnesses, they still thought there were gaps in the case they must bring in a verdict of not guilty. 

"I submit you have ample scope for doubt in this case," said the defence counsel. 

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy then began his charge to the eleven jurors where he told them they had several options open to them.

"The first being guilty of murder or not. Then not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter on the basis of self-defence, or on the basis of diminished responsibility or again on basis of no intent to kill just intention to hurt. Those will be the variances that arise in this particular case," he said. 

The judge will continue his charge to the jury in the morning at 11am.