A murder trial was dramatically halted today after a mother admitted to the murder and attempted murder of her two infant sons. She was sentenced to life.
n day 10 of the trial at Antrim Crown Court, defense QC Kieran Mallon was due to start calling evidence, but instead told Judge Patricia Smyth he was no longer able to “present evidence of reduced liability” and therefore called for both charges to be brought against the accused again.
Sitting in the dock next to her lawyer, the 41-year-old showed little to no emotion as the murder and attempted murder charges were brought against her, leaning into the microphone to say ‘guilty’ on every charge.
After thanking the jury for their service in the “heartbreaking and particularly harrowing trial” and instructing the foreman to enter a verdict of “guilty by admission”, Judge Smyth then ordered the woman to stand.
“You have pleaded guilty to the murder of your son as well as the attempted murder of your other son and the only sentence I can impose is life imprisonment,” she told the defendant, explaining that once the various reports are compiled, she would establish the minimum rate the woman will spend in prison before she can be considered for release by the parole board.
During the prosecution’s case, the jury heard that March 2, 2020 started like any other Monday morning – everyone got up early and left for school and work by 9 a.m. in the morning. However, within an hour, a child is believed to be dead with his mother and brother rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery.
The boys’ father testified that he ‘kissed the boys and told them I loved them’ before going to work. He would soon receive a phone call from the defendant asking if they “could talk”, and when he suggested leaving the issue until he was done working, the defendant texted him saying ” kiss my ass”.
Within 20 minutes, she sent a series of chilling and shocking messages in quick succession, telling the panicked father, “I killed the bots and I’m dying too…bots….bots….boys” .
Calling for an ambulance as a colleague drove him home, the father forced open the locked front door. He ran upstairs to his bedroom to find his fiancee and two infant sons lying together in a blood-soaked bed – and a six-inch paring knife nearby.
“I think once I saw that my son was lifeless and his little brother started making noises, I just collapsed on the floor,” he told the jury.
He was driven downstairs as paramedics and the air ambulance team worked to save his family. The first police officer on the scene described how the boys’ father was “frenzied, totally freaked out… white, almost grey… crying uncontrollably”.
The officer added: “He was standing, bent over, sometimes falling to the ground, above the
island in the kitchen saying things like “the boys are dead, she killed my boys” and crying. He was completely broken.
The jury heard that when she stabbed the older victim, she severed an artery and a vein and “almost completely bisected” his first rib, injuries that caused his “pretty quick death”.
Her little brother was millimeters away from suffering the same fate, while the mother was taken to hospital by the air ambulance after she had stabbed herself and overdosed.
She had also written a series of notes that morning, stating, “I’m doing this to hurt those who hurt me and the one who continues to hurt me.”
“I take my children with me because I can’t leave them with their father; he is a horrible person; has no empathy; please understand that i LOVE my children; I REALLY don’t want to do that; I don’t want to do this, but I feel like I have no choice.
The jury was told at the start of the trial that there was no dispute as to the cause of the injuries, but the issue would be whether or not the defendant suffered from a mental abnormality so significant that his decision, judgment and appreciation of consequences was significantly impaired.
In relation to this issue, the jury heard evidence from the boys’ father and the defendant’s ex-husband, as well as her two older teenagers, all of whom testified that she was violent and aggressive towards their respective partners.
The boys’ father testified that she could be “a fantastic mum”, but this also noted:
- numerous “screaming matches”, many of which are recorded on his cellphone for his own “protection”;
- He felt like he was living “with two different people”;
- He considered contacting social services;
- The defendant overdosed and punched herself in the stomach while pregnant with the boy she would later kill;
- That her teenage children from her first marriage knew she was self-harming and saw her assaulting both their father and the boys’ father.
While both men told the jury they did not believe she had ever threatened to harm the children, her teenage son told police he had heard her “threatening to harm them before.” wrong”.
He told detectives that during one of the regular arguments between his mother and her partner, “I think she threatened to hurt them that night”, while she also threatened to kill herself. .
“I think I’ve heard her say it before when they were arguing, but I don’t know when it was,” the boy said.
The jury viewed three videos, recorded by the boys’ father, which graphically depicted life in their home. The first two captured an angry argument nine months before the murder and the third was recorded the night before the boys were stabbed.
Their father, the defendant and a number of jurors were overcome with emotion as they watched the seven-second clip of the mother holding her 11-month-old son with both hands, helping him walk around the central island from the kitchen as he and his big brother chase a hopping lamb, their giggles and giggles filling the room.
In interviews with police, the woman claimed her last memory before waking up in a hospital intensive care unit was of being in the playroom with the two boys ‘their little faces playing happily’ , repeatedly claiming that she didn’t remember anything between the two.
Detectives told her that she planned to drug the two boys, drug herself, text her fiancé, write several notes, take the boys and a knife upstairs to the bedroom and to stab them in the neck and abdomen in a “calculated manner”. “.
“You murdered your child and attempted to murder the other and it was only through medical intervention that he was saved,” said the detective who asked him directly: “Did you intend to kill the boys?
“No, no, I wouldn’t even have dreamed of it,” she told police.
“Do you accept that you killed your son? the detective demanded to know, but she told them, “how can I – I loved them so much”.
The Crown has always claimed that when the mother stabbed the boys, she intended to either kill them or at least cause serious harm to her sons. The defense had argued that at the time she suffered from an abnormality of the mind that significantly impaired her thinking, decision-making and perception of consequences.