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Nanny's lawyer attacks prosecution after US baby murder charge is dropped

Published 01/09/2015

Aisling Brady McCarthy (The Boston Globe/AP)
Aisling Brady McCarthy (The Boston Globe/AP)

The prosecution of a Co Cavan nanny accused of murdering a one-year-old girl in America has been branded a disgrace by her lawyer, after the charge was dropped.

Aisling Brady McCarthy had been due to stand trial accused of killing one-year-old Rehma Sabir in Massachusetts in 2013.

The 37-year-old spent almost two-and-a-half years in jail before being released on bail in May.

Ms McCarthy is originally from Cavan but has been in the US illegally since 2002 and had been Rehma's nanny for around six months when the baby died in January 2013.

Prosecutors have now dropped the case after a state medical examiner reversed a finding that the baby's death was a murder caused by shaken baby syndrome, and instead said it was "undetermined".

Ms McCarthy's lawyer Melinda Thompson said: "It was a tragedy that a child died, but, quite frankly, the way this prosecution was handled was a complete disgrace."

She said the nanny had not stopped crying " out of joy" since hearing the news the charge had been dropped.

"This was an absolute nightmare. It changes a person. She can't get those years back," said Ms Thompson.

She added that Ms McCarthy still faces uncertainty as US immigration authorities want to detain her.

People in Ms McCarthy's hometown of Lavey are relieved at the news that the murder charge has been dropped, local priest Rev Kevin Fay said.

"It's fantastic news, just fantastic news," he told the Boston Globe. "We all know the family very well. There's a sense of great relief for everybody," he added.

The state medical examiner made the change after finding that Rehma had past medical issues and may have had some type of undiagnosed disorder.

Marian Ryan, the district attorney for Middlesex in Massachusetts, said: "Based on an assessment of the present state of the evidence, including the amended ruling from the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, the Commonwealth cannot meet its burden of proof."

The medical examiner said the decision to change the cause and manner of death came after additional materials were reviewed.

These included expert witness reports, additional transcripts of police interviews, transcripts of testimony heard ahead of the planned trial, additional medical records and additional medical testing related to the girl's death.

The reports states: "These additional materials put forth several different and often conflicting opinions about the cause of Rehma's death.

"In particular the overall state of Rehma's health and her past medical issues raise the possibility that she had some type of disorder that was not able to be completely diagnosed prior to her death."

The report said Rehma had a history of bruising and that she might have been prone to easy bleeding with relatively minor trauma.

"Given these uncertainties, I am no longer convinced that the subdural hemorrhage in this case could only have been caused by abusive/inflicted head trauma, and I can no longer rule the manner of death as a homicide," the medical examiner added.

"I believe that enough evidence has been presented to raise the possibility that the bleeding could have been related to an accidental injury in a child with a bleeding risk or possibly could have even been a result of an undefined natural disease.

"As such I am amending the cause and manner of death to reflect this uncertainty."

The ruling comes almost a year after charges were dropped in another Middlesex murder case which alleged a baby had been shaken.

A father accused of killing his six-month-old son in 2010 had the charge against him dropped in September last year after his lawyers discovered there was a rare genetic vulnerability to ruptured arteries or veins in the family's medical history.

In that case the state medical examiner said the manner of death could not be determined.

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