Louth murder accused did not experience 'a dissociative reaction' at time of killing


Louth murder accused did not experience 'a dissociative reaction' at time of killing

Central Criminal Court

A psychiatrist has told a jury she was not satisfied that a woman accused of murdering her boyfriend experienced "a dissociative reaction" at the time of the killing. 

Dr Sally Linehan was testifying on behalf of the prosecution today on the tenth day of the Louth woman’s trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Paula Farrell (46) of Rathmullen Park in Drogheda has pleaded not guilty to murdering 30-year-old Wayne McQuillan, but guilty to his manslaughter at that address on New Year’s morning in 2014. She admits stabbing him four times.

The mother-of-three testified last week that the deceased had tried to have sex with her, that she hadn’t wanted to have sex, and that he had started strangling her before she went to the kitchen for the knife.

She also said that she felt she wouldn’t be in her current situation had she not been abused as a child. Ms Farrell gave evidence that she was sexually abused by a named man from seven years of age until 14 and said he had “ruined” her life. She then disclosed the alleged abuse to an adult, who took steps to ensure her safety.

Gerard Clarke SC, prosecuting, today called consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Sally Linehan, to the witness box.

Dr Linehan said that she had conducted two reports in relation to Ms Farrell, the first in June 2015 and the second in July 2019.

In an interview in June 2015, Ms Farrell said she had not experienced flashbacks concerning her sexual abuse at the time of the alleged offence nor did she recall hearing voices, explained Dr Linehan.

The accused woman said she did not acknowledge in her interviews to gardai that Mr McQuillan tried to have sex with her as she did not want to believe it, as a result of it happening to her as a child, outlined Dr Linehan. 

Dr Linehan told Mr Clarke that she was satisfied that the accused met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time of the alleged offence. However, the witness said she was not satisfied that Ms Farrell had experienced "a dissociative reaction" at the time of the incident.

In an interview in 2019, Ms Farrell said she continued to have "intrusive dreams" about childhood sexual abuse, remarked Dr Linehan. 

The witness said Ms Farrell had told her that she did not know if she had memories of being abused as a child when this offence occurred in 2014. 

Following this, Caroline Biggs SC, defending, cross-examined the witness. Dr Linehan agreed with Ms Biggs that she did not disagree with anything which forensic psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright had said to the jury. "Our opinions are the same," said Dr Linehan, adding that she agreed that Ms Farrell was suffering from PTSD at the time and has frequent fluctuations in her mood.

Dr Wright, who was called by the defence, previously stated that she had interviewed the accused on a number of occasions and found she had PTSD as a result of child abuse suffered at the time she killed her boyfriend.

Dr Wright told Ms Biggs that Ms Farrell had long-standing alcohol dependence syndrome, PTSD, was hypersensitive, hyper vigilant and emotionally unstable.

Dr Wright confirmed that her PTSD and depression were mental illnesses and that, in her view, her PTSD was related to childhood trauma. She was of the opinion that she had both illnesses at the time of the killing.

In summary, Dr Linehan agreed with Ms Biggs that Ms Farrell has a "passive death wish" as a result of killing her boyfriend. Dr Linehan told the jury that this is a wish to be dead but without a plan to harm or injure one's life.

The four men and eight women of the jury will hear closing speeches from both sides tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

To continue reading this article, please register and log in.

Registration is free and you can also sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with your latest local news!


Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.