Warning over doctor assault appeal
A judge has warned against delaying an appeal by a doctor found guilty of assaulting police officers while under the influence of a date rape drug.
Dr Eireann Kerr, 32, is fighting to clear her name, with colleagues saying before the latest court case that her career could be jeopardised by her conviction.
The trial judge accepted that Dr Kerr's drink had been spiked with GHB, but found her guilty of assault, resisting an officer and disorderly behaviour, and gave her a two-month conditional discharge.
She is appealing against her conviction and is calling on the Public Prosecutions Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland to drop the case against her. Her medical colleagues have also launched a petition to help fight her cause.
Londonderry appeal judge Philip Babington said: "Justice delayed is often justice denied."
The case is due to be dealt with before courts take their summer break, the court was told today.
Hospital anaesthetist Dr Kerr's bid to clear her name will be heard in Londonderry Courthouse.
She was recently convicted of a series of offences committed after she attended a Christmas party with work colleagues in Derry in December 2013.
Dr Kerr, of Marlborough Park South in Belfast, insists she has no memory of the events.
A concerned Derry taxi driver had taken her to a police station, where she committed the offences.
She woke up in a police cell and upon release she went to hospital to get blood tests - an examination that found traces of date rape drug GHB.
The district judge who convicted her at Londonderry Magistrates' Court said he had no doubt her drink had been spiked, but explained involuntary intoxication was not a defence in law.
As well as two charges of assaulting police, the medic was also found guilty of disorderly behaviour and resisting a police officer.
She was given a two-month conditional discharge.
The doctor claims the convictions have put her medical career at risk.
A high-profile campaign to clear the medic's name has already attracted 8,500 signatures in an online petition.
Dr Kerr appeared before Judge Babington, the recorder or most senior judge in Londonderry.
A prosecution barrister said the case had been formally reviewed all the way through the process.
Jonathan Longman added the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) had not yet received a letter from the defence stating what the grounds for appeal were.
"My instructions are that the decision has been given and that the case will be proceeding."
Dr Kerr faces being struck off the medical register if her conviction is upheld, doctors said.
Her colleagues at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry, where she trained for a year before moving to Belfast, have also launched a change.org petition urging the PPS to drop the case at appeal. It has been signed by more than 7,000 people.