Warning: Some details in this report are distressing
A grieving father gave evidence on Wednesday that he “kissed the boys” on his way out to work but the next time he saw his eldest son, the toddler “was lifeless”.
Giving evidence from the witness box in Antrim Crown Court with his former fiancée sitting in the dock 30 feet away, his voice cracked with emotion as he outlined to the jury that after he “kicked the door in,” he ran upstairs and found her in the bedroom with his two sons.
“All three of them were lying on the bed and there was blood everywhere, all over the bed,” he told prosecuting QC Charles MacCreanor, “I think once I seen my son was lifeless and his little brother started making noises, I just collapsed on the floor.”
Smartly dressed in a grey suit and opened necked black shirt, he told the jury he “saw a knife on the bed and I think I fell over again” before he was “ushered out and downstairs” where again, “I collapsed on the floor for a period of time.”
With his children and fiancée taken to hospital where he waited for news and “it seemed to take forever to hear anything,” he told the jury how he found out his oldest son was dead.
“I think it was police came in and said ‘the doctor’s going to come and speak with you’ and one officer broke down in tears,” said the witness, “it was written all over his face that they were coming to tell me my son had not made it.
“I think I was possibly on the floor of that room when the doctor or whoever came to tell me,” he told the jury, outlining that he did not leave the hospital for five or six days, staying with his youngest son.
His 41-year-old former partner, who cannot be identified to protect the child who survived and his older half siblings, is on trial accused of murdering her son who was two months short of his third birthday and the attempted murder of his 11-month-old little brother on March 2, 2020.
The jury of six men and six women have already heard harrowing evidence the 41-year-old put multiple morphine pain relief patches on the children before stabbing them numerous times in the bedroom of the family home leaving “suicide notes” that she did not want them to “experience pain” and “I'm taking my kids with me because I can't leave them with their dad.”
Both boys had sustained stab wounds to their necks and abdomens but the oldest victim died as a result of a neck wound which severed an artery and a vain while his little brother came within millimetres of the same fate and had to undergo emergency surgery.
It is the Crown case that when the children were stabbed, their mother either intended to kill them or at least intended to cause her infant sons really serious harm but the defence argue that at the time, she was suffering from an abnormality of mind which substantially impaired her thinking, decision making and perception of consequences.
As the examination in chief moved away from the tragic events themselves and to the nature of the relationship with the defendant, the witness said while his former fiancée was “a good mum” and there was good times between them, “in the bad times, there’s so many”.
He outlined how the defendant:
took an overdose while she was pregnant with the child she is later accused of killing;
Struck him, broke his glasses and “screamed” at him during “explosive” arguments;
Accused him of having affairs and sent social media messages to his female friends to “stay away from her man”;
“Bombarded” him with text messages and phone calls and;
Made “constant threats” to commit suicide, especially when he tried to leave.
He told Mr MacCreanor there were “several occasions” when the police were called or he threatened to call the police and that would “usually de-escalate the situation” but that on other occasions, “she would have said I will be gone before they get here”.
The witness told the jury she threatened “I will end it, I will kill myself before they get here — they won’t have time.”
“I would be 100% certain that she told me that she knew exactly how she could do it and that they [the emergency services] would have no chance to get there,” the jury heard.
Outlining how the defendant was going through an “acrimonious divorce” at the time, the witness said having noticed how “awkward” his former fiancée made it for her ex to see his children, he recorded some of their arguments on his mobile phone.
Admitting that he himself “raised my voice and shouted” during arguments, he told the jury: “I thought if I ever have a similar situation, I would like some form of evidence if she went and said this man is Mr Bad Guy because it’s for the male to prove otherwise, in my opinion.”
He recalled one occasion when the defendant had self harmed, cutting her leg and as he was holding the boys, “there was blood everywhere…and I was screaming for the older kids to come and help me while she was holding a knife at the top of the stairs and I’m asking her to put the knife down.”
The jury heard that on “lots and lots and lots” of occasions, “I suggested that she needed to get professional help” but during cross examination from defence QC Kieran Mallon, he said he felt that he had “nowhere to turn to” because even though he felt that “she’s not a well woman,” she had managed to convince mental health services and social services that she was fine when she had taken an overdose during her pregnancy.
He agreed that he had entered his experiences and observations of the defendant into an internet search and that has “brought up the issue of depression and multiple personality disorder”.
Mr Mallon revealed that in the 48 hours before she stabbed her two youngest children, the 41-year-old had herself conducted “56 searches in relation to personality disorder”.
The trial continues.