The jury in the Deirdre Morley trial in Dublin has begun their deliberations and will continue tomorrow, May 20.
On the opening day of her trial in Dublin on Monday, May 17, Deirdre Morley, 44, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for killing her three young children in their family home in Dublin on January 24, 2020.
Two consultant psychiatrists, Dr. Brenda Wright, a witness for the defense, and Dr. Mary Davoren, called upon by the prosecution, both said in court that they believed Morley fulfills two of the three criteria under which it is possible for a jury to return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Only one of the three criteria needs to be met in order for a jury to return a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.
On January 24, 2020, Deirdre Morley suffocated her three children, Conor McGinley, 9, Darragh McGinley, 7, and Carla McGinley, 3, to death in their family home in Dublin while her husband Andrew McGinley was at work.
After killing them, Morley set out to take her own life. She took prescription painkillers and a bottle of wine and headed for a local overpass, but crashed her car on the way. A nurse happened upon the scene and brought Morley home. However, Morley left the house again and another passerby encountered her in a visibly disoriented state and took her to the hospital where she was placed in an induced coma.
Before heading for the overpass, Morley left a note in the home: “Don’t go upstairs, phone 911.”
Another note left near Conor said: “I’m so sorry, I can see no future… I had to take them with me. I’m broken and couldn’t be saved or fixed…I’m so sorry.”
In court this week, the jury was told there was no debate surrounding whether or not Morley killed her children, but rather her state of mind at the time of the crime.
“You’re guilty in law if you did a thing and you meant to do the thing. But you can’t be held responsible if you had no control of your mind,” Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, for the prosecution, told the jury.
Morley has a documented struggle with mental health issues. She took a leave from work in 2018 due to stress and in 2019 was admitted to St. Patrick’s Hospital for four weeks.
While her husband and sisters rallied to make themselves readily available to help Morley, they could not have been prepared for her “rapid deterioration,” Michael Bowman SC of the defense team told the court.
Dr. Wright, who interviewed Morley three times after the murders, diagnosed Morley with bipolar affective disorder and told the court that Morley “believed her actions were morally right."
Dr. Wright said that Morley "believed she had damaged her children and had to end their lives. She was unable to refrain from her actions.”
Dr. Wright added that Morley’s thinking was “impaired to the extent she could not think of an alternative” to killing her children.
Dr. Davoren agreed with prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC that Morley was indeed insane at the time she killed her children. She further agreed with Bowman that a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity would be an appropriate verdict.
In an interview with gardai four days after the killings, Morley explained how she killed her three children.
She told gardai: “I was feeling very low and overwhelmed. I was trying to power through but my thoughts were getting a lot darker in the last week.
"I had wanted on and off for a long time to not be here. I started to think that I couldn’t leave the kids behind. I became very remorseful about the impact of my mental illness on the kids.
“I felt the kids wouldn’t be equipped to deal with life.”
Morley believed the children's lives would be "full of pain for them."
“I felt I hadn’t given them enough love. I started to think that they were more damaged than I think they were.”
However, speaking in court, Det Sgt Kenny said that everyone who knew the McGinley children found them to be “impeccably behaved” and “fantastic children.”
In a statement after his children's deaths, Andrew McGinley said: "There are no words. There is only devastation, grief, and anguish. Every breath is a struggle. Conor, Darragh, and Carla are adored. They all had beautiful, bright futures ahead of them with family, friends, and a community who love them.
"To all parents, cuddle your children whenever you get a chance, tell them how much you love them as often as you can, spend every spare minute with them reading, playing, and enjoying their wonderfulness.
"The future has now become our enemy but we will battle it every day to keep the memory of Conor, Darragh, and Carla alive.
RTÉ reports that Morley said she wanted to move forward to escorted community release after the trial was over.