| 15.3°C Dublin

Harrowing evidence Deirdre Morley's son said 'Mum, stop' as she pulled bag over his head, court hears

Distressing details contained in court report below


Deirdre Morley

Deirdre Morley

Deirdre Morley

A MOTHER who suffocated her three children told gardaí her son pleaded "stop mum" as she pulled a bag over his head, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The admission was made by Deirdre Morley (44) during an interview with gardaí just days after she took the lives of her two sons Conor McGinley (9) and Darragh McGinley (7) and daughter Carla McGinley (3).

During one of three interviews conducted after their deaths, she admitted to detectives what she had done was "horrific" and said: "I just want them back."

Ms Morley, who worked as a nurse at Crumlin Children's Hospital, said she used sticky tape, plastic bags and cushions to smother her children at their home in Parson's Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin, on January 24 last year while her husband, Andrew McGinley, was on business in Cork.

Mr McGinley found their bodies when he returned home that evening.

She has pleaded not guilty to their murders by reason of insanity.


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

Ms Morley told gardaí she had been suffering from depression for several months before the killings and had thought about taking her own life.

She suffered a breakdown in July 2019, after which she spent a period at St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin.

However, it was only in the week before the tragedy that she thought about taking the lives of the children too.

"I never wanted to hurt them. I started to feel I had damaged them and they were broken, like me," she said.

Ms Morley told gardaí she did not tell anyone she was suicidal or had thoughts of murdering the children.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

She said her husband did not know her worries were as severe as they were.

"It wasn't his fault," she told detectives.

The court heard on Tuesday Ms Morley passed out from medication and alcohol before she could follow through on her plan to take her own life after ending those of her children.

Opening the case yesterday, prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor told a jury of 10 men and two women there would be a "distressing" level of detail in the account they would hear.

"In this case, there is no issue as to what happened and how the children died," she said.

But she told jurors that a person was to be found not guilty by reason of insanity if they were suffering from a mental disorder such that they should not be held responsible.

There were three elements to this, she said.

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

During an examination of the lead investigator in the case, Detective Sergeant Dara Kenny, Ms Lawlor read excerpts from Ms Morley's Garda interviews to the jury.

The court heard that Ms Morley had sought to kill the children the night before, and had put morphine in cereal she gave to the two boys and a painkiller called Tylex in Carla's drink.

But the children spat out the food and drink as they didn't like the taste and the idea was abandoned.

She told gardaí she was relieved her plan hadn't transpired.

The following morning, while Conor had gone to school, his brother Darragh had stayed at home with his little sister Carla.

Seven-year-old Darragh was the first to be killed.

Ms Morley told gardaí they had a disagreement over the amount of "screen time" he was having on an iPad and watching television that morning.

Ms Morley said shortly afterwards she remembered looking at the clock and thinking "I could smother him now. I could kill him now".

She said: "Something clicked with me or something changed."

Ms Morley said she cut some pieces of brown tape and took a plastic bag from under the sink around 12.10pm.

Asked by gardaí what happened next, she said: "I don't remember clearly. I think he was just giving out, not having his screens, having a terrible life or having a terrible morning.

"I think I just reached for the tape and put it on his mouth."

Ms Morley said he was standing in the living room at this stage and tried to scream.

She forced him down on the ground into a play tent erected in the room, put a bag on his head and put a pillow on top.

She said he struggled under her for a number of minutes.

After he was dead, she carried his body to a bedroom upstairs and laid him on the bed.

Asked by gardaí what she was thinking at that point, she replied: "I was thinking I wanted to stop but I couldn't. That I didn't want to do it but I felt I had to. Because I had started to do it."

She accepted that if she hadn't killed him, the smothering of his siblings would not have happened.

The court heard Ms Morley got a text from a niece about preparations for a wedding at 12.39pm, to which she replied: "So exciting."

She told gardaí she believed Darragh was dead by that stage.

Little Carla was the next to die. The three-year-old had been watching Trolls when her mother picked her up and put a bag over her head and then pressed down with a cushion.

After bringing her body upstairs, Ms Morley realised her daughter was not dead and she proceeded to suffocate her again.

Ms Morley then went to collect Conor from school at 1.50pm. She told gardaí she took him out of school early so she would have enough time to kill him and herself before her husband came home.

They stopped at Tesco on the way home and Conor bought a sandwich roll.

At 1.58pm, her husband was in contact to say he had to go to a wake that evening but would be home afterwards.

The court heard there would be other phone calls between them later in the day during which Ms Morley behaved normally.

Conor went into the play tent in the living room to watch a movie when they got home.

Ms Morley told gardaí she got a different role of tape, one which was stronger and thicker than the one she used on Darragh.

"I am sitting there with the tape in my hand and I am asking him questions about the movie," she said.

"I am thinking, 'I can't do this. This is awful'. And then I am thinking, 'I can't not do this because the other two are dead and how would he be if he knew his mother killed his siblings'."

She said after 15 minutes of the movie she put tape on her mouth and told her son she used to play a game in school to see who could talk through the tape.

"I put the tape on him and he tried to talk through it. Then I said let's put the bag on and see if you can talk with the bag," she said.

Ms Morley said she put the bag on him, turned him over and pulled the bag tightly.

"He said: 'Mum, stop'. And I said: "I'm really sorry' and I just pulled the bag tighter and put a cushion over him," she said.

Post-mortem examinations by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster determined the children died from asphyxia due to compressions of the chest area and airways.

Ms Lawlor said statements from teachers at Conor and Darragh's school and Carla's creche demonstrated they were all impeccably well- behaved children.

She said a lengthy statement from their father about the children and how they all got on as a family demonstrated unequivocally they were fantastic children.

Ms Morley left the house at 4.10pm in her car. She had taken a variety of drugs, including Oxycontin, Xanax and Duloxetine and brought a bottle of wine with her.

At 5.10pm she received a call from her husband, who updated her that he would be back around 7pm.

The court heard that at 5.35pm, she had a minor crash with a lamppost at a grassy area near a bridge over the N7 between Newcastle and Rathcoole. A nurse called Deirdre Gorman came across the accident and was concerned Ms Morley was unwell.

She insisted on driving her home and dropped her off at Parson's Court.

Ms Gorman said Ms Morley looked "disconnected", but assured her she "would be OK", so Ms Gorman left.

Shortly afterwards Ms Morley called a taxi and went to Rathcoole.

After being dropped off there she walked to the flyover.

Another taxi driver, Paul O'Callaghan, saw her and it was apparent to him she was in a state of distress.

He was helped by another woman, Stephanie Bradshaw, to put her into his taxi and he drove her back to Parson's Court.

On the way, Ms Morley lost consciousness. Mr O'Callaghan called an ambulance, which arrived at 7.10pm.

The court heard two gardaí were in the estate on other business at the same time and were alerted.

A neighbour rang Mr McGinley at 7.14pm and he said he was nearly home. He arrived at 7.21pm.

He called the couple's childminder to see where the children were, only to be told they were not with her.

"He entered the house along with ambulance crew and fire brigade staff," Det-Sgt Kenny said.

The court heard Mr McGinley found his son Conor first.

The boy's feet were protruding from inside the play tent.

Ambulance staff went upstairs and found the other two children.

Efforts were made by them to stop Mr McGinley coming into the bedroom where they lay, but these were unsuccessful, Ms Lawlor said.

"The level of distress was extraordinarily high for obvious reasons," Ms Lawlor said.

Ms Morley had left a note on a bicycle at the bottom of the stairs. It read: "Don't go. Front room. Upstairs. Phone 911. I am sorry."

Another note beside Conor's body read: "I am so sorry. I see no future with disturbance and mental illness. I had to take them with me. It is my fault. I am broke and couldn't be saved or fixed.

"I have love and support. But I couldn't continue to live with myself. I am so sorry."

Ms Lawlor said the court would hear evidence from consultants psychiatrists Dr Mary Davoren and Dr Brenda Wright who prepared reports on behalf of the prosecution and defence.

Both concluded Ms Morley had a mental disorder, and that Ms Morley could not imagine her children would ever live healthy lives and believed their best interests were served by taking their lives.

The case continues before Mr Justice Paul Coffey.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices