Belfast Telegraph

Rebecca McKeown's grandparents acquitted of causing her death

An elderly couple who were accused of killing their severely disabled granddaughter have been acquitted of all charges.

Judge Mr Justice McLaughlin directed the jury to acquit David Johnston (88) and his wife Sarah (86), from Carwood Drive, Glengormley, County Antrim after the prosecution offered no further evidence.

The couple had denied the 2001 manslaughter and child cruelty charges against their 14-year-old granddaughter Rebecca McKeown.

Rebecca died after contracting pneumonia which the prosecution had argued came about as a result of a sexual assault at the hands of one or other grandparent.

Prosecuting barrister, Toby Hedworth QC, said a decision had been made to offer no further evidence against the couple following the evidence of State Pathologist for Northern Ireland Professor Jack Crane and locum GP Dr Mary Donnelly.

Professor Crane said he could not be certain that the internal injury sustained by Rebecca led to the pneumonia which caused her death.

Dr Donnelly told the court her fingers had “unintentionally” slipped inside the teenager during an examination 11 years ago.

Mr Justice McLaughlin directed the jury of seven men and five women to find both Mr and Mrs Johnston not guilty and told them they were free to go.



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