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Murder trial Deirdre Morley accused of murdering her 3 children meets criteria for ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’, court told

While both psychiatrists determined Ms Morley knew what she was doing, they found she did not know it was wrong and her ability to refrain from doing it was impaired.

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Deirdre Morley with husband Andrew McGinley and children Conor, Darragh and Carla

Deirdre Morley with husband Andrew McGinley and children Conor, Darragh and Carla

Deirdre Morley with husband Andrew McGinley and children Conor, Darragh and Carla

Two consultant psychiatrists have found Deirdre Morley, who is on trial for the murder of her three children, meets the criteria for being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr Brenda Wright, a witness for the defence, and Dr Mary Davoren, who was called by the prosecution, both said they believed she fulfilled two of the three criteria under which it is possible for a jury to return that verdict.

It is only necessary for one of the three criteria to be present for such a verdict, the Central Criminal Court heard.

Both were of the view Ms Morley has a mental disorder as defined in the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.

The court heard that once it has been established a person was suffering from a mental disorder there were three possible reasons why they could be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The first was that the person did not know what they were doing, the second was that they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong, and the third was whether they had the capacity to refrain from the act.

While both psychiatrists determined Ms Morley knew what she was doing, they found she did not know it was wrong and her ability to refrain from doing it was impaired.

Asked by prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC this afternoon if in her professional view Ms Morley was insane at the time of the killings, Dr Davoren agreed it was.

She agreed with defence counsel Michael Bowman SC that a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity would be an appropriate verdict.

Earlier, the court heard lengthy evidence from Dr Wright.

The consultant psychiatrist interviewed Ms Morley (44) on three occasions at the Central Mental Hospital following the killing of her three children.

Under questioning from Mr Bowman, Dr Wright said in her view Ms Morley knew the nature and quality of her acts and knew they would result in the deaths of her three children.

“However, in my view, as a result of her disorder she did not know they were wrong,” Dr Wright said.

Ms Morley is accused of murdering her sons Conor McGinley (9) and Darragh McGinley (7) and daughter Carla McGinley (3) on January 24 last year.

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The bodies of the children were discovered at the family home at Parson's Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin by their heartbroken father Andrew McGinley that evening.

Ms Morley, who used to work as a clinical nurse at Crumlin Children’s Hospital, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr Wright was giving evidence on the second day of her trial.

She said Ms Morley believed she had caused irreparable damage to her children through bad parenting.

She told Mr Bowman that Ms Morley met the criteria for a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The consultant psychiatrist said Ms Morley “believed her actions were morally right”.

“She believed she had damaged her children and had to end their lives,” Dr Wright said.

“She was unable to refrain from her actions.”

Dr Wright said Ms Morley’s thinking and judgment were “impaired to the extent she could not think of an alternative” to killing her children.

The court heard a considerable amount of evidence about Ms Morley’s medical history.

This involved recurrent bouts of depressions, leading to her to having breaks from work or having to work part-time.

A significant escalation occurred from July 2019, when she was admitted for a short period to St Patrick’s Hospital.

Dr Wright interviewed Ms Morley on three occasion in September and October 2020 and also had access to files on her medical history.

She told the court that in her view, Ms Morley’s illness at the time of the offences was “severe” and the intensity of her symptoms became unmanageable.

Dr Wright said Ms Morley developed delusions. These were “false fixed beliefs” about her children and her performance as parent and that she was not amenable to reason.

The consultant psychiatrist said someone with these issues cannot be dissuaded from their delusion.

She said that despite the fact Ms Morley was reassured about her parenting, she could not take that on board and maintained feelings of “personal inadequacy, worthlessness and guilty”.

Dr Wright said she developed feelings of being overwhelmed, inadequacy in her role as a parent and wife and concerns her mental health was impacting on her children.

The consultant psychiatrist diagnosed Ms Morley with bipolar affective disorder and concluded she had attempted to conceal her difficulties from those close to her.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Coffey.

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