Deirdre Morley, who killed her three children, sues HSE, hospital and consultant

Deirdre Morley & family

20 January 2022

Deirdre Morley, the mentally ill mother who killed her three children, and her husband Andrew McGinley have both issued medical negligence actions against the HSE in relation to her care.

The Governors of St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin and a consultant psychiatrist are also named as defendants in separate lawsuits filed with the High Court on Wednesday.

The move comes eight months after Ms Morley, a paediatric nurse, was found not guilty by reason of insanity with the murder of Conor (9), Darragh (7) and Carla McGinley (3) at their home in Newcastle, Co Dublin on January 24, 2020.

The lawsuits were filed after privately commissioned expert reports identified alleged failings in Ms Morley’s care.

Mr McGinley confirmed the issuing of the proceedings when contacted by the Irish Independent.

“This is a process I would much rather not be taking. I just want to understand why my children died,” he said.

After his wife’s trial concluded, Mr McGinley raised a number of concerns and called for an investigation as a matter of urgency into her diagnosis, treatment and medication prior to the tragedy.

Mr McGinley said the result of a preliminary review of his wife’s case by the HSE had not been shared with him.

He said his concerns about his wife’s care had only increased since he was given access to her medical files last September.

“I think anyone who attended at the trial or saw these medical reports would have questions. I sat there and I just had question after question after question that still haven’t been answered,” he said.

Among the issues he has raised is that his wife’s diagnosis prior to the deaths of the children was different from what it was at the end of her trial.

He believes that if her diagnosis at the time of the death of the children was questionable, then so too was her treatment and medication.

Mr McGinley has also said he believes there were a number of occasions during Ms Morley’s professional care where her initial diagnosis should have been queried.

A further issue is his belief that such were the warning signs that would have been seen during his wife’s treatment, they should have warranted the breaching of patient confidentiality to inform him of the extent of her illness.

“Confidentiality should have been breached. But someone chose not to,” he said.

Mr McGinley and his wife have two separate legal teams, but it is thought their cases could run concurrently as they involve the same defendants and are likely to rely on similar material.

Keith Walsh Solicitors is representing Ms Morley while Callan Tansey Solicitors are representing Mr McGinley.

“There are key changes that need to be made. I don’t know, maybe they won’t be made until this case is heard,” said Mr McGinley.

“I am just frustrated. It is two years since the children died and I do not see any discernible change made to how patients are treated for their mental health in Ireland.

“Many people have written to me since I have talked about family inclusion, that they have managed to get their loved ones’ consent to include them in their treatment plans. And yet still they are not included.

“I am trying not to be angry. I don’t want to be angry. I promised the kids I wouldn’t get angry. But here I am two years without them and no closer to understanding why they died.”

The HSE did not have any comment to make in relation to the legal action.

However, it said an independent review was “ongoing”.

“The HSE cannot comment on individual cases when to do so might reveal information resulting in a breach of the ethical requirement on us to observe our duty of confidentiality,” it said in a statement.

Ms Morley’s trial heard she kept the full extent of her illness concealed from those closest to her, including her husband.

She had been on antidepressant drugs for over two years and had previously spent a short period at St Patrick’s in July 2019 after expressing suicidal thoughts.

In the two years before the killings she attended her GP, Clondalkin Mental Health Services, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and St Patrick’s.

The court heard that during that time she was prescribed at least five different antidepressant drugs at various stages and the diagnoses she received were less serious than those reached by consultant psychiatrists after the killings, when it was determined she had slipped into delusion and psychosis.

Ms Morley convinced herself her children had been damaged as a result of her mental illness and had no future.

She later expressed regret and remorse but told gardaí she had been unable to stop herself.

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