High Court  | 

Deirdre Morley sues HSE over her care in lead up to killing her three children

Solicitors acting for Ms Morley, a clinical nurse, initiated medical negligence proceedings in the High Court earlier today

Andrew McGinley and Deirdre Morley with Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla (3)

Patrick O'Connell

A MOTHER, who was committed to the Central Mental Hospital after killing her three children, is now suing the HSE alleging ‘medical negligence.’

Deirdre Morley was last year found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of her three children Conor (9) and Darragh (7) and Carla (3) at their home on Newcastle, Co Dublin on January 24 of 2020.

Solicitors acting for Ms Morley, a clinical nurse, initiated medical negligence proceedings in the High Court earlier today in papers naming the HSE, the Governors of St Patrick’s Hospital and a third individual as defendants.

Ms Morley is represented by Keith Walsh solicitors.

The case is understood to relate to the care she received for mental health issues in the lead up to her children’s deaths.

Ms Morley is currently in the care of the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, Co Dublin.

She was committed to the facility in in June of last year by Mr Justice Paul Coffey.

Mr Justice Coffey had requested that Ms Morley be examined in May of 2021 after the jury at her murder trial returned an insanity verdict.

That examination was subsequently carried out by Dr Ronan Mullaney, a consultant forensic psychiatrist.

Addressing the contents of Dr Mullaney’s report at a brief hearing held at the Central Criminal Court in June, Mr Justice Coffey said: “I am satisfied Ms Morley continues to suffer from a mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act and I am also satisfied she requires treatment at a designated centre.”

He committed her to the care of the Central Mental Hospital where she has been receiving psychiatric care since shortly after she killed her children in January of 2020.

During her two day trial, two psychiatrists testified that Ms Morley, who specialised in renal care at Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the three killings and fulfilled the criteria for the special verdict.

Andrew McGinley with his three children Conor, Darragh and Carla

The two consultant forensic psychiatrists called as expert witnesses were both in agreement that the accused was unable to appreciate what she had done was morally wrong and was unable to refrain from her actions.

Ms Morley’s trial at the Central Criminal Court was described by the State as “a desperately sad case”.

Ms Morley’s defence counsel told the jury the case was a “tragedy of enormous proportions.”

They described as a “tragic irony” the fact the accused was someone who had committed her entire professional life to the care of children as a paediatric nurse.

The trial heard Ms Morley had suffered from mental health difficulties for several years.

Ms Morley, who worked as a paediatric nurse at Crumlin Children’s Hospital, had a long history of depression and her condition escalated to delusion and psychosis by the time she killed the children.

However, she hid the severity of her condition from those closest to her.

Her husband Andrew McGinley has sought an inquiry into her care and diagnosis prior to the children’s deaths.

Ms Morley’s two-day trial heard harrowing evidence of how she used sticky tape, plastic bags and cushions to smother her children to death while their father was away for work.

Darragh (7), Carla (3) and Conor (9)

She told gardaí she took their lives as she believed they had been damaged by her mental illness and her parenting.

She had convinced herself they would be better off dead and also planned to end her own life. However, she passed out on medication and alcohol before she could do so.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster found the children had died by asphyxia from compressions of the chest area and airways.

Dr Brenda Wright, called by the defence, gave a detailed description of the accused’s mental state deteriorating in the weeks before the killing and said she was suffering with bipolar affective disorder at the time.

The witness said the defendant believed it was morally right to smother her three children as she thought she had “irreparably damaged” them and “had to put an end to their suffering."

Dr Mary Davoren, for the prosecution, testified that the accused was suffering at a minimum from recurrent depressive disorder and experienced a severe depressive episode on the day.

Under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, Ms Morley’s condition and ongoing detention are reviewed every six months.

A review board sits to decide on her ongoing treatment and detention at the Central Mental Hospital based on evidence from her treating psychiatrist.

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