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8,810 sign petition to clear date rape drug doctor of cops assault

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 16/05/2015

Dr Eireann Kerr
Dr Eireann Kerr

A high-profile campaign to clear the name of a doctor convicted of assaulting police officers while she was under the influence of a date rape drug has attracted thousands of supporters.

The petition arguing that the case against Dr Eireann Kerr should be dropped now has 8,810 signatures - nearly reaching its 10,000 target.

The 34-year-old has spoken of how she is thankful for the support she has received during the campaign from people across the UK and internationally.

Eireann, a hospital anaesthetist now employed by the Belfast Trust, had her drink spiked with the date rape drug GHB on a Christmas night out in 2013.

Dr Kerr, of Marlborough Park South in Belfast, had been out with colleagues in Londonderry.

The group had gone for a meal before moving on to a bar - which she had no recollection of leaving.

A taxi driver concerned by the state she was in had taken her to a police station, where she committed the offences.

Judge Peter King accepted her drink had been spiked but said this was not a defence. He imposed a two-month conditional discharge on Dr Kerr for disorderly behaviour, assaulting two police officers and resisting arrest, despite his acceptance that there was evidence to support her claim that she was under the influence of a date rape drug.

An appeal against the conviction was postponed at the beginning of May. The judge hearing Dr Kerr's case said he wanted the appeal to proceed by July 6. The case has led to many saying the current law should be re-examined.

Among supporters who have signed the petition is Vincent Cavanagh, a retired doctor.

He said: "As a good doctor she had the presence of mind to have blood tests taken.

"She has been truthful about the amount she did drink, and while this was not small, it could not have caused such a result. The law does not allow her defence. The law is out of date and wrong in the current climate of many available and exotic untried and dangerous drugs. This should be given due consideration by the courts."

Emma Jayne Park from Edinburgh said: "Ultimately the law needs to be revised to consider cases such as these, however this should not be at the cost of Eireann."

The PPS said in a previous statement: "We consider that it is in the public interest to prosecute those cases where there is evidence of an attack on emergency services staff, such as police, particularly when injuries are sustained by those staff.

"In the particular circumstances of this case, we offered the defendant a caution, which she refused. We note that in subsequent court proceedings the defendant was found guilty and sentenced accordingly.

"We respect the sentencing decision made. We can confirm that we have received from the defence team notice to appeal the court's decision and this matter is now subjudice."

The public petition calling for justice for Eireann Kerr can be found at http://tinyurl.com/koxp4kh

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