Belfast Telegraph

Derry mum said 'devil made her want to stab her child to death', court hears

By Alan Erwin

A Co Derry woman who claimed the Devil made her want to stab her child to death could be moved to England to reduce any danger, the High Court has heard.

The potential for treatment outside Northern Ireland was raised as prosecutors alleged the 22-year-old also made notes expressing a desire to kill other relatives.

Adjourning her bail application, a judge requested expert opinion on the risks if she were released from custody.

Mr Justice Maguire suggested: "If she were residing in England her ability to execute a threat, even if she wanted to, would be rather more limited."

The defendant is not being named to protect her three-year-old daughter's identity.

She faces three charges of making threats to kill the child, her own mother and ex-husband.

The allegations relate to repeated disclosures made at two different medical facilities earlier this month.

In the second incident, during voluntary treatment at Holywell Hospital in Antrim on October 16, she claimed voices in her head made her want to kill family members, the court heard.

She allegedly spoke about stabbing her daughter, mother and former partner, nodding her head to reiterate a definite intention to carry out the threats before committing suicide.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay said the woman claimed: "The Devil has my mind."

Jottings attributed to the defendant described being "out to murder... I'm going to stab them all myself", the barrister argued.

Mrs McKay added: "She has named others in these scribblings, she has mentioned her sister and her ex-partner's partner."

The woman denies any intention to act on her alleged comments.

A consultant psychiatrist who examined the accused assessed her as not suffering from a mental illness.

He concluded that she was fit for interview rather than requiring in-patient care.

During the hearing Mr Justice Maguire stressed the need for further opinion on any risk the woman poses to herself and others.

"On the face of it, repeatedly issuing threats of this nature is a grave concern," he said.

Although the accused could not be detained for treatment in Northern Ireland, the judge indicated that she could be a compulsory patient under different mental health laws in England and Wales.

As he adjourned the application for more information, Mr Justice Maguire explained: "This is not the sort of case where the court feels it can take more chances than is absolutely necessary."

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