An Irish woman who suffocated her three children in January 2020 has been found not guilty of their murders by reason of insanity.
The jury who heard Deirdre Morley's case spent just over four hours deliberating their verdict which they handed down today, May 20.
According to the Irish Times, Morley will now be committed back to the Central Mental Hospital until May 31 when the matter is due to be mentioned again before the court.
Under the law, a new review must be now carried out by a consultant psychiatrist as part of the consideration of her future care.
Deirdre Morley, 44, killed her two sons Conor, 9, and Darragh, 7, and her three-year-old daughter Carla McGinley in their family home in Newcastle, County Dublin on January 24, 2020.
Morley was suffering from a severe depressive illness at the time and believed that she was a bad mother and that she had irreparably damaged her children because of her mental illness.
Justice Paul Coffey told the jurors on Thursday that there was "no contest" over what the verdict should be and described the case as "sad and tragic".
Jurors were instructed to find Morley not guilty by reason of insanity if they were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Morley was suffering from a mental illness at the time.
Justice Coffey also told jurors to reach a not guilty verdict if they were satisfied that Morley was unaware of the nature and quality of what she was doing or if they were satisfied that Morley did not realize that she was doing something wrong and was unable to stop herself.
Coffey told the jurors that they must find Morley not guilty by reason of insanity if any of those three grounds were fulfilled.
Unusually, both prosecution and defense agreed that Morley should be found not guilty by reason of insanity on all three counts of murder.
The Central Criminal Court trial heard that Morley wished to take her own life in January 2020 and decided to take her children with her.
She confided in psychiatrists in late 2018 that she was worried that her mental illness would affect her children and the court heard that her illness became more severe throughout 2019.
However, she took steps to mask her symptoms from her husband Andrew and others who were close to her so that they didn't know the extent of her illness at the time of the incident.
The court heard that Morley believed that the plan to kill herself and her children was necessary and unavoidable.
Morley first attempted to kill Conor, Darragh, and Carla while her husband was away for work on January 23. She put drugs in her children's food and drink in an attempt to sedate them, but the children tasted the drugs and spat out the food.
She said that she decided to go ahead with her plan the next morning following an argument with her seven-year-old son Darragh over screen time. She suffocated Darragh and then suffocated her three-old-daughter Carla before collecting Conor from school and suffocating him as well.
Morley set out to take her own life after killing her children. She took prescription painkillers and drank a bottle of wine and headed for a local overpass. However, she crashed her car en route and was taken home by a passerby.
She left her house again and was found in a visibly disorientated state by another passerby, who phoned emergency services.
Her husband Andrew returned from work to find her unconscious outside the house being treated by paramedics. He subsequently discovered his children's bodies upstairs in the family home.
Morley was placed in an induced coma in Tallaght University Hospital and reportedly expressed remorse and regret when she awoke.
She said that she wished she had a time machine and later told gardaí that she just wanted her children back.
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 fulfilled two of the three criteria under which it is possible for a jury to return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
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. Davoren agreed with the defense and said that a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict was appropriate.
RTÉ reports that Morley said that she wants to move forward to escorted community release after the trial was over.