Family hopeful Aisling Brady McCarthy will be home soon

Community of Lavey, Co Cavan fundraised throughout case in bid to cover legal costs

After two and a half years in US custody, family and friends of Irish nanny Aisling Brady McCarthy were finally switching their thoughts to her coming home.

"I spoke with [her family] last night and they were very excited, very happy, very relieved," said Luke Waters, a former Irish detective with the New York Police Department who had been advising her family on the US justice system.

“I would just imagine she will just want to move on with her life.”

A long way

Framingham women's prison in Massachusetts, where Ms McCarthy had been incarcerated for over two years, is a long way from the rural landscape of Lavey, Co Cavan.


Primarily a farming community, it was here she grew up with her parents Margaret and Aidan and nine siblings, a well-known and respected family. The small community has been fundraising throughout her ordeal in an attempt to help with legal costs.

"We are all over the moon," said Cllr Val Smith, who was involved in helping to raise money. "This is something that we were all supporting for the last two and a half years - her innocence.

“We knew from day one that she was innocent.”

Mr Smith sounded a note of caution around the idea of celebration. “Aisling has spent two years in jail, so I don’t know how you would celebrate that,” he said.

‘Pure torture’

“The family have been through pure torture not knowing what the end result was going to be, and knowing that Aisling was innocent - two and a half years later in a top security jail for a crime she didn’t commit.”

Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith, who knows the family well, said Ms McCarthy's plight has been to the forefront of people's minds on an ongoing basis.

“They are exceptionally decent, hard-working people. I have to say, in every town and village that I was in, people were openly speaking about this judgment and how delighted they were it has come down in their favour.

“Her family has been through a terrible ordeal and everyone is glad it’s been brought to a conclusion.”

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, also a local TD, welcomed the outcome as “a great relief” for her family.

Ms McCarthy remained an illegal alien despite the criminal charges being dropped on Monday, and was arrested by US immigration agents in Boston on Tuesday after being formally released from state custody by law enforcement agents in Massachusetts.

Supporters hopeful

Nevertheless, supporters are hopeful her return home can be expedited by US authorities, given what she has been through.

Mr Waters - who lives in Cavan and whose book NYPD Green traced his time as a US law enforcement official - had used his expertise to advise Ms McCarthy's family in Ireland. He had noticed cracks in the prosecution case from an early stage.

In particular, he said, the length of time it took for her to be indicted and the severity of the murder charge were “red flags”.

“When I saw her with [a charge of] murder in the first degree I said they are out of control. They must have some strong, powerful case,” he said, at the time telling the family he felt it wouldn’t go anywhere.

He said the judge’s decision to release her on bail last May, despite her being an illegal immigrant, was also telling.

“We don’t know what happened in the chambers, but the judge made some calls and she was released on bail. I called her uncle at that time [to say] that they do not have a case.”

Seek compensation

Now, he says, Ms McCarthy could seek compensation.

“I can’t see any reason why she can’t sue. They put her through hell when they could have stopped this months ago, possibly a year ago, and they didn’t.”

The Cavan woman’s lawyer, Melinda Thompson, said when asked if there was any recourse available to Ms McCarthy: “I think some other lawyers at my firm might be better able to answer.

“In a perfect world there should be. I don’t know how you give somebody two years of their life back, but I hope there’s some way - some way to help her and quite frankly make sure this doesn’t happen to somebody else.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times