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Murder trial Judge will accept majority verdict in trial of Deirdre Morley accused of murdering children

Ms Morley (44) 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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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.

The judge in the trial of nurse Deirdre Morley, who is accused of murdering her three children, has told the jury he will accept a majority verdict.

After they returned from lunch at 2pm, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said sufficient time had passed to allow him to accept a verdict that at least ten of the twelve jurors could agree upon.

They had been deliberating for 3 hours and ten minutes.

The jury foreman said they had some questions to formulate and would return to the court with these shortly.

Earlier the judge told the jury both the prosecution and the defence agree a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity is the appropriate verdict for them to come to.

He made the comment this morning after the jury sought clarity on the three criteria under which it is possible to return such a verdict.

The jury had deliberated in the case for an hour and 28 minutes yesterday before informing the judge they had the query.

He allowed them go home for the night and addressed the question this morning at the Central Criminal Court.

Ms Morley (44) is accused of murdering her sons Conor McGinley (9) and Darragh McGinley (7) and daughter Carla McGinley (3) on January 24 last year.

Their bodies were discovered at the family home at Parson’s Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin by their father Andrew McGinley that evening.

Ms Morley pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Her two-day trial heard she had a long history of depression and her condition escalated to delusion and psychosis by the time she killed the children.

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Mr Justice Coffey said the jury must be satisfied that at the time of the offence Ms Morley was suffering from a mental disorder such that she should not be held responsible for the deaths of the children.

He said that for this finding to be made they had to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities of at least one of the following things.

That she did not know the nature and quality of what she was doing, that she did not know what she was doing was wrong, or that she was unable to refrain from the acts.

“It is important to note these grounds are alternative, not cumulative. Compliance with any of the grounds is sufficient for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity,” the judge said.

Mr Justice Coffey said a witness for the defence, consultant psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright, had testified Ms Morley was suffering from a mental disorder known as bipolar effective disorder type two.

He said that in her view Ms Morley qualified for a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity on two of the criteria.

“Namely that she did not know what she was doing was wrong and secondly that she could not refrain from doing it,” Mr Justice Coffey said.

He told the jury of ten men and two women the prosecution had not cross-examined Dr Wright or sought to contradict her evidence.

The judge said the prosecution had called Dr Mary Davoren, another consultant psychiatrist, who corroborated the evidence of Dr Wright.

“The doctors are unanimous in their view she was legally insane when she smothered and killed her three children,” he said.

The judge continued: “This is not a case where the prosecution seeks a finding of murder on any count.”

He said both the prosecution and defence agree a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity is appropriate.

The jury resumed deliberations at 11.22am.

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