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Mother given life sentence after pleading guilty to the murder and attempted murder of two infant sons


A murder trial was dramatically halted today after a mum admitted the murder and attempted murder of her two infant sons. She was handed a life sentence.

On day 10 of the trial at Antrim Crown Court, defence QC Kieran Mallon was to begin calling evidence, but instead he told Judge Patricia Smyth he was now not in a position to “present evidence of diminished responsibility” and was therefore asking for the two charges to be put to the defendant again.

Sitting in the dock beside her solicitor, the 41-year-old woman showed little or no emotion as the charges of murder and attempted murder were put to her, bending down into the microphone to say “guilty” to each charge.

Having thanked the jury for their service in the “harrowing and particularly distressing trial” and instructing the foreman to record a verdict of “guilty by confession”, Judge Smyth then ordered the woman to stand.

“You have pleaded guilty to the murder of your son and also to the attempted murder of your other son and the only sentence that I can impose is of life imprisonment,” she told the defendant, explaining that once various reports have been compiled, she would set the minimum tariff that the woman will spend in jail before she can be considered for release by parole commissioners.

During the course of the prosecution’s case, the jury heard that March 2, 2020, began like any other Monday morning - everyone was up early and left for school and work by 9am. However, within an hour, one child would be dead with his mother and brother rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery.

The father of the boys gave evidence that he “kissed the boys and told them I loved them” before he went to work. He would soon receive a phonecall from the defendant asking if they “could talk”, and when he suggested leaving the issue until after he finished work, the defendant sent him a text message saying “f*** you”.

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Within 20 minutes of this, she sent had a series of chilling and shocking messages in quick succession, telling the panic-stricken dad, “I’ve killed the bots and I’m dying too…the bots….the bots….the 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 his two infant sons lying together in a bed saturated with blood – and a six-inch vegetable paring knife lying close by.

“I think once I seen my son was lifeless and his little brother started making noises, I just collapsed on the floor,” he told the jury.

He was ushered downstairs as paramedics and the air ambulance crew worked to save his family. The first police officer at the scene described how the boys’ father was “frantic, totally panicked…white, almost grey… crying uncontrollably”.

The officer added: “He was standing, leaning, falling to the floor sometimes, over the central

island in the kitchen saying things like ‘the boys are dead, she’s killed my boys’ and just crying. He was completely broken.”

The jury heard that when she stabbed the older victim, she had severed an artery and a vein and “had almost completely bisected” his first rib, injuries which caused his “fairly rapid death”.

His little brother was millimetres from suffering the same fate, while the mother was taken to hospital by the air ambulance as she had stabbed herself and taken an overdose.

She had also written a series of notes that morning, declaring: “I’m doing this to hurt the ones who have hurt me and the one who is continuing to hurt me.

“I’m taking my kids with me because I can’t leave them with their dad; he is a horrible person; doesn’t have any empathy; please understand I LOVE my kids; I REALLY don’t want to do this; I don’t want to do this but I feel I have no choice.”

The jury was told at the start of the trial there was no dispute about who caused the injuries, but the issue would be to determine whether or not the defendant was suffering from such a significant abnormality of the mind that her decision-making, judgement and appreciation of consequences were significantly impaired.

In relation to that issue, the jury heard background evidence from the boys’ father and the defendant’s ex-husband, as well as her two older teenage children, who all said she was violent and aggressive to her respective partners.

The boys’ dad testified that she can be “a fantastic mum” but that also noted:

  • numerous “yelling matches”, with many of them recorded on his mobile phone for his own “protection”;
  • He felt as though he was living “with two different people”;
  • He considered contacting social services;
  • The defendant took an overdose and forcibly punched herself in the belly while pregnant with the boy she would later kill;
  • That her teenage children from her first marriage were aware that she engaged in self-harm and had seen her assault both their dad and the boys’ dad.

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 “threaten to hurt” them before.

He told detectives that during one of the regular arguments between his mum and her partner, “I think she threatened to harm them that night”, when she also threatened to kill herself.

“I think I have heard her say it before when they were arguing, but I don’t know when that was,” the boy said.

The jury watched three videos, recorded by the boys’ dad, which graphically illustrated 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 by emotion as they watched the seven-second clip of the mother holding her 11-month-old son by both hands, helping him walk around the central island in the kitchen as he and his big brother chase a skipping lamb, their laughter and giggles filling the room.

During police interviews, the woman claimed her last memory before waking up in a hospital intensive care unit was being in the playroom with the two boys “their wee faces playing happily”, repeatedly claiming she could not remember anything in between.

The detectives put it to her that she had planned to drug the two boys, drug herself, text her fiance, pen several notes, take the boys and a knife upstairs to the bedroom and stab them in their necks and abdomen in a “calculated way".

“You murdered your child and attempted to murder the other and it’s only through medical intervention that he was saved,” said the detective who asked her directly: “Did you intend to kill the boys?”

“No, no, I would not even have dreamt 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”.

It had always been the Crown’s case that when the mother stabbed the boys, she had intended either to kill them or at least to cause her sons serious harm. The defence had argued that at the time she was suffering from an abnormality of the mind which substantially impaired her thinking, decision-making and perception of consequences.

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