25 Jun 2022

Court order on identifying mother accused of murdering her three young children has been lifted

The 44-year-old is due to stand trial next week

Central Criminal Court

Central Criminal Court, Dublin

The identity of a 44-year-old mother who is to stand trial next week accused of murdering her three young children at their family home can now be published following the lifting of a court order.

Last November at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Michael White ruled that the accused Deirdre Morley, who had been previously named by the media, could no longer be named or identified because the case concerned an alleged offence against her children. As the deceased children could not be identified, Ms Morley could not be named, as to do so would have identified them.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC, representing Ms Morley, had brought the application to have his client's identity protected in light of a Court of Appeal ruling on the interpretation of Section 252 of the Children Act. Barrister for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anne-Marie Lawlor SC had not objected.

Ms Morley of Parson's Court, Newcastle, Co Dublin, is charged with murdering her sons Conor (9) and Darragh (7) and her daughter Carla (3). The children's bodies were discovered at the family home just before 8pm on January 24 last year.

Bernard Condon SC told Mr Justice Paul Coffey at the Central Criminal Court today (Thursday) that he was standing in for Ms Lawlor and said he understood that the reporting restrictions in the case could be lifted on consent. 

The defence, who had originally applied for the order, told the court that there was consent to the application. 

Addressing the parties, Mr Justice Coffey said he would grant the order.

The Children (Amendment) Act 2021 was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last month after passing in the Dáil and the Seanad and came into force last week. This means that, following the controversial Court of Appeal ruling in October last year, the law has now been changed to remove the restriction on naming deceased children except in certain exceptional circumstances. In cases where specific orders remain, applications have to be made to the courts by media organisations or relatives in each case to lift those orders.
The Court of Appeal found that Section 252 of the Children Act, 2001 prohibited the identification of child victims and made it an offence to publish anything that could identify a child who is an alleged victim of an offence, including a deceased child.

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