Central Criminal Court
A prosecutor has told a woman’s trial that the defence was using child sex abuse an excuse for murder. The defence lawyer stated that this was never the case.
Both sides were giving their closing speeches to the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of a Louth woman, who admits killing her boyfriend.
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.
A forensic psychiatrist stated that the accused had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of child abuse at the time she killed her boyfriend. She told another medic that, while the deceased was on top of her, she was thinking about what had happened to her as a child.
Gerard Clarke SC, prosecuting, said yesterday that Ms Farrell had told a big lie about being raped by Mr McQuillan before killing him.
The barrister told the jury that it would find the truth of what happened on the night in what she told gardai in the days following the killing, ‘not this elaborate story you’ve heard, with the first mention of a rape being 15 months after he was killed’.
He noted that, in those garda interviews, she had described her relationship with the deceased as brilliant. She said he would ‘never’ hurt her.
“Yet, the case is being put forward that, almost in a flash, he turned into some sort of homicidal rapist and maniac, who raped her and was going to kill her,” he said.
Mr Clarke informed the jury that he prosecuted cases of child sexual abuse.
“In this case, it’s being used as an excuse for murder,” he said.
He said that Ms Farrell’s behaviour came nowhere near meeting the very narrow definition of provocation, which could reduce murder to manslaughter.
“She was in control. She knew what she was doing,” he concluded. “When you look at all the evidence, there really is only one verdict that is appropriate, and that is a verdict of murder.”
Caroline Biggs SC, defending, pointed to ‘evidence that both sides of her neck were held’, something she said was consistent with being choked or strangled.
She reminded the jury that her client had said she was scratching the deceased’s face during the alleged sex assault, and noted that 11 scratches were found on his face.
“This is a lady, who suffers from PTSD and panic attacks,... where she believes she’s going to die,” she said. “Is that relevant to her state of mind?”
Ms Biggs noted that the pathologist had also found significant bruising to both sides of the deceased’s lower pelvic rim, with one side also scratched.
“She’s able to get access to the skin,” she noted. “Why? Because there’s no clothing.”
She also recalled that the first witnesses to the scene had described his pants being down and his genitals exposed, when he collapsed outside the house.
Regarding her client not mentioning the alleged sex assault for 15 months, she reminded the jury that Ms Farrell had been sexually abused as a child.
“Her ability to discuss matters sexual is not going to be the same as yours,” she said.
Ms Biggs said that the first time her client had ever had counselling for her child abuse was in the year after the killing. She said that it was only then that she was able to describe why she hadn’t wanted to have sex with the deceased that night.
“Or is it that she is capable of inventing this terrific lie and sticking to it on 12 different occasions to psychiatrists and psychologists, a person with a borderline intellectual disability?” she asked.
She noted that child sexual abuse distorted a child’s development and said that all her client’s illnesses had emanated from child abuse.
However, she said it was not right to say that the defence was using it as an excuse for murder.
“That has never been the defence case,” she said.
Ms Biggs said that, because of her mental illnesses, what would be a trigger for Ms Farrell would not be a trigger for the reasonable person.
She noted that Ms Farrell had consumed about six litres of cider that night. A self-confessed alcoholic, the accused said she had begun drinking as a teenager.
“Paula Farrell has been drunk her whole life and she’s never behaved like this,” said her barrister. “So what was it about this night? Is it this cocktail of child sexual abuse..., PTSD, alcohol and an act or series of acts on the part of the deceased?”
She asked for a verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter due to ‘a reasonable possibility that she was provoked on this night, in light of that cocktail, in light of his actions’.
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart will charge the jury of eight women and four men this (Friday) morning.
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