Delays over evidence signalled weakening case against nanny
Aisling Brady McCarthy, who always protested her innocence, spent 27 months in jail
Aisling Brady McCarthy: she has spent 27 months in jail and a further three months under house arrest. Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP
Continual delays in handing over medical evidence were the first hint that the prosecution’s murder case against Irish nanny Aisling Brady McCarthy over the death of a child in her care was on thin ice.
This was long before the murder charge against her was dropped on Monday, finally ending a 30-month prosecution case.
US prosecutors charged McCarthy with assault a week after the death of Rehma Sabir, who was found to be breathing but unconscious in her cot on the afternoon of January 14th, 2013, her first birthday, at her home in Cambridge near Boston.
In April 2013, the charges against McCarthy (37), an illegal immigrant in the US since 2002, were upgraded to first-degree murder. Her trial was due to start, after many delays, on October 13th.
The Middlesex County district attorney claimed the child died because the last person with her – McCarthy – violently shook her or caused abusive head trauma leading to her death on January 16th.
McCarthy protested her innocence from day one. Her lawyers said the child had been “sick much of her life”.
In May the prosecution’s case was weakened further when the Massachusetts medical examiner decided to review all evidence in response to nine medical expert reports submitted by McCarthy’s defence team questioning the cause of death.
Judge Maureen Hogan released McCarthy on bail to be held under house arrest and monitored by an electronic bracelet on her ankle in light of the medical examiner’s review – described by the judge as a “rare and significant occurrence” – and revised findings by two medical expert witnesses about the child’s weeks-old injuries.
In an amended ruling, the Massachusetts medical examiner Katherine Lindstrom ruled out homicide as a cause of death to reflect fresh uncertainty around the underlying health of the child.
“Given these uncertainties I am no longer convinced that the subdural haemorrhage [a serious head injury] in this case could only have been caused by abuse/inflicted head trauma, and I can no longer rule the manner of death as homicide,” the examiner said.
“I believe that enough evidence has been presented to raise the possibility that the bleeding could have been related to an accidental injury in a child with a bleeding risk or possibly could have even been a result of an undefined natural disease.”
McCarthy spent 27 months in jail and a further three months under house arrest.
“The life of an innocent woman was ruined,” McCarthy’s lawyer Melinda Thompson told US media yesterday.