Jury finds former GP not guilty on multiple charges
Former Clare general practitioner Paschal Carmody has been found not guilty on 14 charges of obtaining money from terminally ill cancer patients and their families by deception.
However, the jury failed to agree on 11 further charges and the State will now have to decide whether to bring a fresh prosecution against Mr Carmody.
A jury of eight men and three women took almost six hours to reach their verdict at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday.
Shortly after 5:30 pm, the jury returned to the court to announce the result of its deliberations. The foreman said they had reached at least majority agreement on some of the charges but not on all of them.
There was no prospect of reaching agreement on the remaining charges, he told Judge Rory McCabe. He then handed the court registrar a sheet listing the jury’s decision on 25 charges.
Mr Carmody (60), of Ballycuggeran, Killaloe, had denied 25 charges of obtaining €80,172 from six terminally ill cancer patients and their families by deception between September 2001 and October 2002. Judge Rory McCabe had earlier directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict on eight of the charges, relating to three patients, because of a lack of evidence.
The remaining 17 charges related to John Sheridan, Kells, Co Kilkenny, JJ Gallagher, Kingswood, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, and Conor O'Sullivan (14), Granite Lodge, Gorey, Co Wexford, who have all since died. Relatives of all three were in court yesterday.
The dropped charges related to: Josephine Durkin, Beechgrove, Lucan, Co Dublin; Mary O'Connor originally from Mill Street, Cork, but later of the UK; and Karen Kurvink with an address in the Netherlands. All have since died.
The jury began their deliberations on Wednesday afternoon but retired to a hotel for the night when they failed to reach a unanimous verdict after three hours. The trial lasted 17 days and stretched over five weeks.
After lunch today, responding to questions from the court registrar, the foreman of the jury said they had reached unanimous agreement on some of the charges against Mr Carmody, but not on all 17 charges.
Judge Rory McCabe then directed the jury to resume its deliberations to see if they could reach a majority verdict of at least 10-1 on the remaining charges. He advised the jury that if they were unable to reach a majority verdict, they should come back and tell him and he would issue fresh instructions.
The charges stemmed from the provision of a treatment known as Photodynamic Therapy - or PDT - to seriously ill cancer patients at the East clinic in Killaloe in Co. Clare on dates between 2001 and 2002.
Mr Carmody had pleaded not guilty to obtaining money by falsely pretending he could cure six patients of cancer through this treatment. It was alleged patients were told this involved lights being beamed onto patients to blast cancerous cells.
Cancer specialists told the trial that while PDT was used to treat superficial cancers it was inappropriate and ineffective for deep-seated tumours. A number of other experts said Mr Carmody’s work showed good results.
Relatives of a number of patients treated at Mr Carmody’s clinic in Killaloe, now all deceased, gave evidence that he had promised to “cure” their cancers. Bernadette Gallagher told the court that Mr Carmody told her he had a “miracle cure” for her husband JJ’s cancer.
In evidence, Mr Carmody denied being a fraudster and insisted he never misguided patients by promising the treatment could cure cancer. However, he said the treatment showed “striking results, way beyond the laws of chance” and claimed a 97 remission rate in terminal cancers when all other treatments had failed. He said he used the treatment on his brother Peter and helped him live for 14 years after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Among those who gave evidence supporting Mr Carmody were a Dublin nun who said laser treatment at his clinic successfully “zapped” her breast cancer and a former Fianna Fail mayor of Clare.
Mr Carmody’s evidence was that he wasn’t involved in administering the PDT treatment or receiving any money for it. The trial heard that William Porter, a US doctor who administered the treatment, had left the jurisdiction. Lawyers for Mr Carmody said Mr Porter rented a room from the East Clinic and Mr Carmody had nothing to do with the PDT centre.
However, the prosecution showed a document to the court indicating that Mr Carmody was “medical director” of the centre.
Mr Carmody studied medicine at NUIG from 1966 to 1972 and get up his general practice in Killaloe in 1976. He moved to the East Clinic in Killaloe in 1979.
Up to 100 witnesses gave evidence during the 17-day trial. Mr Carmody has a number of convictions for the supply and manufacture of unlicensed medicinal products. He was struck off the Register of Medical Practitioners in 2004 after an investigation by the Medical Council.