Belfast Telegraph

Rebecca McKeown trial: Medical watchdog urged to probe admission by GP over 2001 statement

By Lisa Smyth

The body which regulates doctors must examine the evidence presented in the trial of an elderly couple accused of killing their granddaughter, an MLA has demanded.

Jim Wells called for the General Medical Council (GMC) to act after David and Sarah Johnston were cleared of the manslaughter of 14-year-old Rebecca McKeown.

The Public Prosecution Service dropped the case against the couple as a result of a number of factors, including evidence given by a GP who examined Rebecca prior to her death.

Dr Mary Donnelly admitted for the first time in court — 11 years after examining Rebecca — that two of her fingers “unintentionally” slipped inside her.

Jim Wells, deputy chair of the Stormont health committee and member of the justice committee, said he believes the family of the severely disabled teenager will never know how she died.

“There are very serious questions the GMC must address as a matter of urgency,” he said.

“There can be few things more devastating for a grandparent to be accused of the kind of attack this couple were alleged to be responsible for.”

Questions have been raised over evidence given to the court by Dr Donnelly in relation to her care of Rebecca.

Dr Donnelly was working as an out-of-hours locum GP when she was called to examine Rebecca on March 19, 2001.

Giving evidence last week, she admitted that during an examination of the girl, her fingers accidentally slipped inside Rebecca.

Under cross-examination, she agreed that level of detail was not in her original statement on March 20, 2001. She said she had always been “concerned” by the statement she had given.


The General Medical Council (GMC) is the independent regulator for doctors in the UK responsible for maintaining the safety of patients by ensuring doctors follow proper standards in the practice of medicine. The GMC investigates complaints made about doctors and takes action in serious cases, including where a doctor is found to have failed to examine a patient properly or when they have been found guilty of fraud or dishonesty.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph