Paschal Carmody acquitted of deception charges

Sat, Dec 15, 2012, 00:00

Former Co Clare GP Paschal Carmody was yesterday acquitted of obtaining money by deception from families of two terminally ill cancer patients.

It was the end of the third trial of Dr Carmody. In the first trial the jury could not agree on a verdict. The second trial collapsed over media reporting issues.

At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday Judge Raymond Fullam directed the jury find Dr Carmody not guilty on all nine charges of obtaining €16,554 from families of Co Wexford schoolboy Conor O’Sullivan (15) and Kilkenny man John Sheridan (57) in 2001-2002 at the East Clinic in Killaloe, Co Clare.

Judge Fullam made his ruling yesterday, on the eighth day of the trial, following an application in the absence of the jury by counsel for Dr Carmody, Tom Creed SC, to dismiss the charges at the end of the prosecution evidence. Instructing the jury to acquit the 65-year-old father of five on all counts, Judge Fullam said: “The evidence established that there was no intent to deceive or defraud on the part of Dr Carmody.” He added: “The evidence on some counts was so weak that it would be a mistake to allow the case to go to the jury.”

“Difficult case”

Excusing the jury from duty for five years, the judge said: “It has been a very difficult case involving a lot of sadness for a lot of people and has been distressing.”

In his formal ruling acquitting Dr Carmody, Judge Fullam said: “I am not satisfied that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt all the essential elements of the offences alleged of false pretences and deception.”

He added: “I am satisfied, based particularly on the evidence of Mr Colin Hopper, that there is no evidence about an intent to defraud or deceive on the part of Dr Carmody.”

Mr Hopper, a UK-based expert witness on behalf of the prosecution, told the trial that Dr Carmody struck him as “a caring physician who was interested in doing good for his patients”.

Mr Hopper also stated that Dr Carmody “believed overall he was doing patients good” and in the efficacy of the cancer treatments provided at his clinic in Killaloe. He went to Dr Carmody’s clinic in 2003 to examine, on behalf of the authorities, the photodynamic therapy (PDT) treatments offered to cancer patients there.

Mr Creed, along with Lorcan Connolly BL, made their application to have the case dismissed last week. The case resumed yesterday as Judge Fullam was ill all week.

In the case, evidence was given that Dr Carmody – who had 120 cancer patients under his care – denied ever telling Conor O’Sullivan and Mr Sheridan that he would cure their cancer.

Both underwent PDT treatment at Dr Carmody’s East Clinic. Conor O’Sullivan had a rare bone cancer, Ewings sarcoma, while Mr Sheridan had liver cancer. Both died in November 2002.

Conor O’Sullivan’s parents, Christina and Derek O’Sullivan, told the court that Dr Carmody told their son in July 2002 he would cure his cancer or at worst keep him alive. This was denied by Dr Carmody.

“Proper decision”

Outside court, Dr Carmody said Judge Fullam had made “the proper decision based on the evidence”.

Dr Carmody was first interviewed by gardaí on the allegations in 2004 and he said yesterday: “No more than for everyone else, it has been tough going. We have had to face it. These are things in life that you have to do. I have had other challenges before and met them and I have met this challenge and it is over.”

The O’Sullivan and Sheridan families were not in court for yesterday’s verdict. However, last night Ms O’Sullivan said: “We’re disappointed with the outcome but we are glad that it is over and it is put to bed. Now we can move on.”

In the trial of Dr Carmody, the O’Sullivans, in the witness box, recalled the last few months of Conor’s life and his battle with cancer. Ms O’Sullivan said: “It was just horrendous. It brought all those memories back. It was very upsetting.”

In response to the verdict, Dr Carmody’s solicitor, Frank Buttimer said: “By my reading of the comments of Judge Fullam, I would regard the direction of the trial judge with regard to the evidence as a very strong direction making very strong comment in relation to the strength of the evidence or lack thereof as I would see it.

“So I think Dr Carmody has been vindicated in many, many ways by the comments made by the trial judge in relation to the evidence presented to the court.

“It has been a very trying time for Paschal Carmody, his wife, Frieda, and members of their family just as he accepts that it has been a very trying time for all other people connected with this prosecution.