Wednesday 29 March 2017

'She took Wayne’s future and our future too' - Family's powerful statement after woman (42) jailed for life for murder of partner

Paula Farrell pleads not guilty to the murder of Wayne McQuillan, Central Criminal Court, Dublin. Photo: Courtpix
Paula Farrell pleads not guilty to the murder of Wayne McQuillan, Central Criminal Court, Dublin. Photo: Courtpix

Alison O’Riordan

A 42-year-old Louth woman has been handed down a life sentence after a jury found her guilty of murdering her partner last year.

Paula Farrell with an address at Rathmullen Park, Drogheda, Co Louth was charged with murdering Wayne McQuillan (30) on January 1, 2014.

On June 22 2015 at the Central Criminal Court,  Farrell pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr McQuillan but after a period of three hours 27 minutes deliberating a jury of four men and seven women brought in a unanimous verdict of guilty.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the eleven members of the jury they were exempt from jury service for the next ten years.

Wayne McQuillan
Wayne McQuillan

The sister of the deceased, Audrey McQuillan, read out a victim impact report on behalf of her parents Bernie and Jim, telling the court it will haunt them forever to think that Wayne was killed by someone who should have loved and protected him as they had.

Instead the court room heard how his last moments on this earth were moments of pain and fear and as a family they were not there to hold his hand and comfort him.

“It pains us therefore to think that as Wayne progressed in life and formed new relationships, relationships we had hoped would be caring and loving, that it was in fact one of these relationships that would lead to his death,” said Ms McQuillan.

The court heard how not only did Farrell take their son and brother from them, she also took all their hopes and dreams.

“She took Wayne’s future and our future too. There will be no more birthday parties, no more Christmas gatherings and the New Year will never be the same for us again. Wayne will never get to live out his dreams, he will never fulfil his ambitions. We will never see him get his first home, get married, have children. We will never get to share all those celebrations with him. Our family is forever broken,” read Ms McQuillan.

She then told the court when Farrell killed her brother Wayne, she killed a part of her family too and how they are so “angry” with her for taking him prematurely.

“We cannot forgive her for the terrible pain and suffering she has inflicted on us. Our lives will never be the same again, we can never be together as a family again and this breaks our heart. Paula Farrell has also left us feeling a fear, a fear of bumping into her or meeting her while we go about our daily business, we live in the same area as her and we do not ever want to see her face again,” she read.

Finally the sister said they have heard over the trial, the accused use the words “hurt and numb” but the hurt she has inflicted upon their family is unbearable and some days they wish they could feel numb.

At the opening of the trial four weeks ago the court heard that Farrell and Mr McQuillan who was known as "Quilly" had been in a relationship for a year and he was ten years younger than her and lived with his parents.

In his opening speech, Prosecution Counsel Mr Gerard Clarke SC told the jury of five men and seven women that in the early hours of January 1 2014 Farrell who was then forty years of age killed the deceased by stabbing him four times with a "large kitchen knife."

Mr Clarke said the couple regularly "overindulged" in drink and particularly on this night in question, before an argument broke out between the pair at Farrell's home in the early hours of the morning of January 1 2014.

"Ms Farrell took a large kitchen knife from a large block of knifes and stabbed Mr McQuillan four times and one stab was fatal," said Mr Clarke.

During the course of the murder trial the jury heard from Garda Tomas Leonard of Drogheda Garda Station who told Mr Clarke that the mother of three told him she stabbed the deceased following an argument with him.

Called to give evidence Gda Leonard said that in the early hours of January 1 2014 at Rathmullen Park he met Farrell in the hallway crying.

“I asked her had she stabbed her boyfriend and she replied she did. In the kitchen I observed blood on the floor and in the kitchen sink, there was a number of items including two knives and watered down blood," said Gda Leonard.

The court heard Farrell was then placed in the back of a patrol car which went to her mother's house, also in Rathmullen Park.

Another witness was Garda Joanna Maguire of Drogheda garda station who told defence counsel Mr Derek Kenneally SC: "She said the nearest thing she could see was a knife and she picked it up and said she stabbed him three or four times.”

Also called to give evidence was Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis who told the murder trial jury that the deceased was stabbed four times, with the fatal blow being an 18cm deep stab wound to his left shoulder which penetrated his lung.

Dr Curtis said he also examined two of the knives found at the scene and how the bigger of the two knives was over 31cm in length with a blade of 20cm long. It was single edged and non-serrated with the handle damaged near the hilt.

Mr Clarke read four interviews to the court which were conducted with Farrell where the 42 year old told gardai that she got a knife and "stuck it in" her partner during the physical fight.

Last week Farrell was called to give evidence by her defence counsel and she told the jury that she was sexually abused by a named man from the age of seven and did not tell anyone about it until she was 14 years of age.

Farrell who was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago also said she took to drinking at 14 years of age to "block" out being sexually abused as a child.

Giving evidence in the trial, she told the court that she was "scared for her life" when the deceased allegedly raped her and began to strangle her "to death" following the verbal argument.

The accused then told her defence counsel how she thought she was going to die and was afraid.

The court then heard as "Quilly" was standing at the kitchen door, Farrell walked six steps to the kitchen sink where she picked up a steak knife, the largest of the knifes.

Mr McQuillan asked his partner to call an ambulance for him, instead she went back to the kitchen to wash her hands.

Later Farrell said she followed "Quilly" outside the front of the house where he was lying on the grass and put her hand on his knee and said she was "so sorry" as she roared crying.

Later that night in her mother's house Farrell went to the bathroom and noticed that her neck was "black and blue from left to right", as well as a mark on her jaw and a bump on her head.

"Why didn't you tell gardai that Wayne had sexually assaulted and raped you?" put Mr Kenneally to the accused.

"Because I didn't want to believe it, because it happened me before," said Farrell.

The court heard it was before last Christmas when she eventually told her sister what Mr McQuillan had allegedly done to her that night.

In cross examination Mr Clarke accused her of telling "deliberate lies to the jury": "I suggest this didn't happen, you made this up so the jury will believe you and it will affect the outcome of your case.”

The accused replied saying: "I'm not lying."

This week consultant forensic psychiatrist Brenda Wright told the murder trial jury that in her expert opinion, the mental disorder suffered by the accused, substantially diminished her responsibility of stabbing the deceased.

"It’s my opinion she has a mental disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder. It is my opinion that her mental disorder impaired her from being unable to exercise self-control," said Dr Wright.

However consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital Dr Sally Linehan who was called by the prosecution said in her expert opinion the accused had the capacity to form intent and wasn't impaired by her mental disorder on the night of the offence.

In his closing speech the prosecution counsel told the jury that the alleged childhood abuse suffered by the accused had "little to do with the murder of" the deceased and it was “a lie” that Mr McQuillan sexually attacked her.

While the defence counsel said the jury had "ample scope for doubt in this case." 

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