Nurse, 44, who suffocated her three children at home found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity

A NURSE who was accused of suffocating her three children at home has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Deirdre Morley, 44, was accused of murdering sons Conor, nine, and Darragh, seven, and three-year-old daughter Carla by smothering them at their home on January 24 last year.

The bodies were discovered by their father Andrew McGinley at their home in Parson's Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin.

Morley admitted smothering her children – but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, a view supported by two consultant psychiatrists, one for the defence and one for the prosecution.

After four hours and 23 minutes of deliberations, the jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

She will be remanded at the Central Mental Hospital until the end of May.

Justice Paul Coffey thanked the jurors for their work in what he called a "heartbreaking case."

At the Central Criminal Court on Thursday, Justice Coffey sought to provide clarity to the jury on the three criteria for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The court heard that once it is established that a person is suffering from a mental disorder there are three possible reasons for such a verdict: that the person did not know what they were doing; that they did not know what they were doing was wrong; or they were unable to refrain from the act.

Justice Coffey said the jury had to consider on the balance of probability whether it was more likely than not that the accused was suffering on one of those grounds.

Dr Brenda Wright, a witness for the defence, said the accused was suffering bipolar affective disorder type two, a recognised mental disorder.

Dr Wright told the court she believed the accused met two of the criteria: that she did not know what she was doing was wrong, and that she was unable to refrain from the act.

Justice Coffey said that this evidence was not challenged by the prosecution.

He said the prosecution had called its own expert witness, Dr Mary Davoren, who independently supported the findings of Dr Wright, and gave evidence that Morley met the same two criteria.

"Accordingly, the expert evidence is all one way" he said.

"The doctors are unanimous in their opinions that the accused was legally insane when she killed her three children."

He said this was not a case in which the prosecution was seeking a conviction for murder, that it was "free from controversy", and was open to the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Justice Coffey said the case was unusual, in that the evidence was unanimous and arose from facts that were not disputed.

He told the jury there were "no issues of underlying fact that you have to resolve."

He said they had to "put that evidence in the balance and ask is there any evidence that contradicts it", which he said there was not.

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