Deirdre Morley, from Newcastle, Co Dublin, allegedly murdered her three children using duct tape and plastic bags to suffocate them on January 24, 2020, the Irish Mirror reports.
Two of the children were killed in their play tent, the jury of the central criminal court learned.
In what was described by the prosecution as “a desperately sad affair”, Morley, 44, had failed the previous day in his attempt to poison his sons Conor McGinley, nine, Darragh McGinley, seven, and daughter Carla McGinley, three years old.
The accused was mentally ill when she caused the deaths of her three children, believing it was in their best interests to kill themselves and that they should go together, the court said.
Morley, a nurse, pleaded not guilty to insanity.
The children’s bodies were discovered at the family home just before 8 p.m. on January 24.
In her opening speech, prosecution attorney Anne-Marie Lawlor SC said it was up to the prosecution to prove that Ms Morley not only killed her three children, but that she had the ability to do so.
Ms Lawlor said the jury’s main concern would be the mental state of the accused on January 24 when these deaths occurred and there was no issue in the case as to what happened to the children and how they died.
“The vast majority of the evidence will come from the mouth of Ms Morley, when she was interviewed three times by Gardai and went into detail about what happened,” she said.
Speaking to the jury, Ms Lawlor said that a very significant part of the evidence came from consulting psychiatrists regarding Ms Morley’s mental health and how the events happened.
Detective Sergeant Dara Kenny would testify to the jury about what happened that day, she said.
Describing the facts of the case, Ms Lawlor said Ms Morley was married to Andrew McGinley and had three children.
There was no doubt that the children were well looked after and loved by their parents, she said, adding that there was also no issue regarding parenthood.
Detailing the evidence that would be heard, Ms Lawlor said the couple had a good marriage, but had been disputed the year before the children died.
Ms Morley’s health had deteriorated very significantly and she suffered depression in July 2019, which led to her seeking psychiatric treatment at St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin.
Ms Lawlor said the evidence will be that the accused was dealing with a mental health professional until January 2020.
Her family and extended family were very involved in caring for her and understood that her mental health was improving.
“In the days leading up to the children’s deaths, it was believed that his mental health had improved and that the psychiatrists would help you, that was not the case,” she said.
On the eve of the murders, Ms Lawlor said Mr McGinley had gone to Cork to work because he understood there were no difficulties in the family home at the time.
Ms Morley, who was highly skilled in her field of nursing, attempted to end her children’s lives on the evening of January 23 by giving them medication in their food, she said.
Prosecution attorney then told the court the jury would hear many details from Ms Morley’s talks with Gardai about how she killed her children on January 24, which she described as distressing.
“No one is saying that the physical acts that claimed the lives of children did not happen,” she said.
There will be evidence, said Ms Lawlor, consultant psychiatrists Dr Mary Davoren and Dr Brenda Wright who prepared reports on behalf of the prosecution and defense and concluded Ms Morley suffered from a mental disorder.
“They give different details on this,” she said.
Dr Davoren will testify that the accused suffered from recurrent depressive disorder and Dr Wright will say that she suffered from bipolar affective disorder, the lawyer said.
“You will hear different accounts of whether Ms. Morley knew what she had done was wrong,” she remarked.
Ms Lawlor said the evidence from the two psychiatrists would be that Ms Morley could not imagine her children would ever live healthy lives and that she believed their best interests were served by committing suicide.
“She couldn’t generate any alternative but to take the lives of her children and they had to go together,” she said.
“This is a desperately sad case, especially for the Morley and McGinley families. “
Giving evidence today, Detective Sergeant Dara Kenny said that on January 22, Ms Morley had searched on Google for ‘a noose’ and the flight over the N7 between Newcastle and Rathcoole. On January 23, she bought a rope at a hardware store.
The accused tried to end the lives of the children on the evening of January 23, but without success.
She put morphine in the two boys’ cereal and a Tylex tablet, containing paracetamol and codeine, in her daughter’s drink. However, the boys spat out the cereal and none of the children were hurt.
The next day, she kept her youngest children home from nursery and school and suffocated them both before bringing them to her room, he said.
She then picked up her elder Conor from school at 1:50 p.m. and suffocated him in a play tent downstairs while he watched a movie.
A note, written by Mrs Morley, was found in the house which read: “Don’t go to the front room or upstairs, call 911, I’m so sorry. “
A second note next to her eldest son’s body said that she could see no future with “mental disorder and illness”. She said she had to take the kids with her and she was broken and couldn’t live with herself. She said she was “so sorry”.
The trial continues this afternoon before Judge Paul Coffey and a jury of ten men and two women. It should last three days.