Court shown video of mum playing with children before she attacked them with knife

A woman who stabbed her two youngest children wept in court as the toddlers she attacked appeared on a video clip.

Their dad, giving evidence at the Antrim Crown Court murder trial on Thursday (19 May), also wept at the seven-second clip he recorded the night before his former fiancée stabbed the little boys, one of them fatally and the other she seriously injured.

Recorded in the kitchen of the family home outside Larne on 1 March 2020, the defendant is seen holding her 11-month-old son by both hands, helping him walk around the central island in the kitchen as he and his big brother chase a skipping lamb, their laughter and giggles filling the room.

Less than 24 hours later, the boys would suffer multiple stab wounds inflicted by their own mum.

The 41-year-old 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 little brother on 2 March 2020.

The jury of seven men and five women have already heard harrowing evidence the 41-year-old “highly qualified nurse” put multiple morphine pain relief patches on the children before stabbing them numerous times in the bedroom of the family home.

She left “suicide notes” that she did not want them to “experience pain” and said “I'm taking my kids with me because I can't leave them with their dad”.

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, while his little brother came within millimetres of the same fate and had to undergo emergency surgery.

On Tuesday, the judge told the jury “there is no dispute” that the defendant stabbed the children but rather, “what is in dispute is her mental state at the relevant time".

It is the Crown case that when the self-confessed killer stabbed them, their mother either intended to kill them or at least intended to cause her infant sons serious harm.

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.

She had also stabbed herself, put the same morphine patches on her body and there were empty packets of painkillers and tranquillisers found in the blood-stained bedroom.

While defence QC Kieran Mallon suggested the short clip played to the jury showed the defendant as a “fantastic mum,” the jury had earlier watched two other videos, one taken during an argument over a Chinese takeaway and the other, a 12-minute video, recorded the morning after.

Recorded in the early hours of 20 June 2019, the jury could see on the footage the boys’ father walking around the house holding the baby with the other little boy following him, crying and he can he heard telling the defendant: “Get your hands off me! You are f****** crazy. Sort yourself out.

"There are two babies in the house…f****** wise yourself up.”

The jury have heard how the defendant stabbed herself in the leg that evening and the witness was “screaming for the older kids to come and help me while she was holding a knife at the top of the stairs and I’m asking her to put the knife down".

A 12-minute video recorded the following morning was played to the jury on Thursday where - with the couple screaming at each other at the tops of their voices while the four children were all in the house - shows the blood-stained bed, the two little boys still asleep but lying close by is a knife.

“There’s the f****** knife, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, blood there, blood there, baby there, baby there….I want to know what went in in your f****** mind because you are a f****** great mum," the witness can be heard saying.

“I’m taking the babies out of here and I’m keeping them until I get social services to help me with this situation,” he shouted at the defendant, threatening that he would send the videos to each of their families, the police and social services.

However, he said he had never shared the videos with anyone, fearing that she would be able to convince the authorities there was nothing wrong and that he would be excluded from seeing his children.

“I thought it better that I was there, even if there was a lot of shouting because a lot of shouting would be better than what occurred in March,” said the grieving dad.

He conceded the video showed a “pretty unhealthy atmosphere” in the house and that although he is “quite disgusted at myself” for shouting and swearing, the video “showed the aftermath of a night that I can only describe as sheer hell.”

“I was in charge of four children, watching someone behave like that with no escape, with the threat that if you contact the police I will be dead before they arrive,” he told the jury and although he agreed with the witness that he was angry, “with the events leading up to that I would challenge anyone not to be angry".

He also agreed with the senior defence barrister he had told both a doctor who treated his wounded son as well as investigating police that at times “you had been living with almost two different people".

In re-examination, he told prosecuting QC Charles MacCreanor he had concerns “for all of the children” because life in the house was a “horrible existence” with arguments and his then partner being angry, verbally abusive and aggressive.

After lunch, the jury watched a video of the defendant’s 13-year-old daughter being interviewed by police about how their family life was in the home.

The defendant herself did not watch it and Judge Patricia Smyth explained to the jury that was because “she prefers not to be here” while the Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) video is played.

During the hour-long tape, the teenager described how she had witnessed her mum argue with her biological father before the couple divorced, recalling one occasion when she punched him in the face and dislocated his jaw while he was driving.

She told the interviewing detective she had also witnessed numerous, almost weekly arguments and yelling between her mum and the wounded toddlers’ father, adding that “sometimes my kin would like throw a mug or something".

When her mum was pregnant with the boy she would later kill, the jury heard there was an incident when “I saw my mum at the top of the stairs punching her stomach”.

The trial continues.