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Mother on trial for stabbing her two infant sons will not give evidence

Warning: report contains details some may find distressing


A woman on trial for the murder and attempted murder of her infant sons has declined to give evidence on her own behalf, her senior barrister has confirmed.

Following the end of the prosecution case at Antrim Crown Court, defence QC Kieran Mallon confirmed the 41-year-old mother “won’t be giving evidence herself”.

He also confirmed to trial judge Patricia Smyth that the mother-of-four had been advised that “the stage has now been reached at which point she may give evidence, and if she chooses not to, or having been sworn in without good reason refuses to answer questions, the jury may draw such inferences as appear proper from her failure to do so”.

The defence case will start on Wednesday and the jury have been told the first witness to be called will be consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Liam Dodge.

Earlier today the jury saw at first hand the knife the defendant used to stab her two toddler sons.

As Detective Sergeant Speers carried the knife over to the jury, the lethal weapon passed just a few feet from the defendant sitting behind a glass partition in the dock.

Due to Covid restrictions, the senior officer had to hold the plastic tube containing the vegetable paring knife, walking from juror to juror to allow the seven men and five women the opportunity to study the weapon used by the 41-year-old with such tragic and catastrophic consequences.

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The mother-of-four 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 brother on March 2 2020.

The jury have already heard harrowing evidence that 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” outlining 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”.

The knife was used in what the police say was a “calculated” method in that 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, the blade penetrating so deep that it touched his spine. His little brother came within millimetres of the same fate and had to undergo emergency surgery.

The boys had bled so much the pain-relief patches had changed colour from beige to crimson red.

It is the Crown’s case that when their mother stabbed them, she intended either to kill them or at least 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.

On Tuesday, the entirety of the notes penned by the defendant were read to the jury by DS Speers in which the defendant wrote: “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,” said some of the notes.

Later, the jury also heard evidence from the defendant’s ex-husband, who told prosecuting QC Charles MacCreanor that he had known her since she was a teenager and that throughout their relationship and marriage the defendant was “very controlling” and “very quick-tempered”.

The witness told the court that while there had been “constant” arguments, “being with her for 25 years I did begin to notice a pattern” in that arguments seemed to centre around her menstrual cycle.

“I could literally take a calendar and put a circle around the good weeks, when everything was fine, but it would gradually get worse,” he told the trial. “I perceived it as part of her menstrual cycle.”

He recounted numerous incidents when she punched him in the face and dislocated his jaw; threw hot coffee over him; “keyed” his company car and smashed two company laptops; deliberately drove fast knowing it scared him, including one incident when a boulder stopped them careering over a cliff; burnt or cut up his clothes; refusing to stay in a house the family were renting because she “felt it was possessed by demons”; “flew into a rage” when she discovered he was dating another woman after they had separated.

He also told Mr MacCreanor about an argument where, after the defendant threw a glass ashtray at him, “I [saw] her shuffling around in the knife draw of the kitchen, at which point it all seemed very scary.

“I started backing out of the house. She didn’t go at me with it, [she] just stood there and threatened me with it.

“I continued to back out of the house and into the driveway. She stood at the door. I jumped in the car and I just [left],” he told the jury.

He said that even though the defendant had been aggressive and violent towards him, when it came to the former couple’s two children, “I know she loved them very deeply.”

Mr MacCreanor asked if there was “ever any sign of any harm to them” and he replied: “No, never.”

Under cross-examination from Mr Mallon, the senior barrister asked the witness whether, over the course of their relationship, “Do you accept that her behaviour was bizarre on a near-monthly basis?”

“I would just say more angry and then it escalated,” said the defendant’s ex.

“Do you accept that she was not a well woman?” Mr Mallon asked him, to which he replied, “I cannot make that determination, I’m afraid,” although he did concede that the 41-year-old “loved her children very much”.

The trial continues.

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