The former Recorder of Derry Judge Philip Babington criticised the Public Prosecution Service for the decision to prosecute the defendant on a charge of murder.

These remarks echoed defence representations following the jury’s acquittal of her in respect of an allegation of murder.

Shauna Pyper was represented by Ciaran Shiels of Madden & Finucane who said today:

“Whilst recognising the tragedy of the McNally family’s loss today, it is only right that we warmly welcome the sentence of five years in custody that was imposed by the former Recorder of Derry HHJ Philip Babington this afternoon.

“We have maintained from the outset of this tragic and sensitive case that Shauna Pyper was innocent of the allegation that she murdered her partner Darren McNally.

“Shauna’s remorse as expressed from the moment Mr McNally was fatally injured has been genuine and profound throughout.

“The defendant spent approximately 40 minutes administering CPR under the guidance of the emergency services.

“She remained with the deceased at all times until police and ambulance services arrived on 8th June 2020, and that has been rightly recognised today by the sentencing Judge.

“The defence made an offer of a plea to manslaughter in this case at an early stage however the Public Prosecution Service insisted that this vulnerable defendant, who was a victim of prolonged and extreme physical and mental abuse, as well as having being diagnosed with Alcohol Dependency Syndrome, for a period in excess of 20 years prior to her arrest in this case.

“We also thank the jury for their careful deliberation in this sensitive case.

“However, there are important and significant lessons that should be learnt from this case by the Public Prosecution Service, in respect of issuing their direction for prosecution for murder in this instance, and when presented with the evidence of a leading forensic psychiatrist who had herself determined the defendant was a particularly vulnerable individual and a sufferer of an acute mental health illness.

“It is our view that the PPS Code For Prosecutors ought to be urgently amended and that clear and transparent guidance be given to senior public prosecutors in respect of their ongoing duty to keep prosecutions under review, particularly when compelling evidence is served upon them by the defence, such as in this case.”