herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Jury is ordered to acquit accused of assisting suicide

The jury in the trial of a woman accused of helping her friend take her own life has been ordered to find her not guilty on two of the three charges against her due to a lack of evidence.

Following legal argument at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Patrick McCartan ordered the jury to acquit Gail O'Rorke (43) of ordering a lethal dose of barbiturates from Mexico which were later taken by Bernadette Forde (51) to end her life.

The judge also told the jury to find Ms O'Rorke not guilty of "procuring" the suicide of her friend by helping to organise her funeral before her death.

Euthanasia

Ms O'Rorke remains accused of attempting to help Ms Forde get to the Swiss euthanasia clinic Dignitas, a plan that was thwarted when a travel agent alerted gardai.

Judge McCartan told jurors that he was ordering not guilty verdicts in the final two charges because he agreed with the defence's argument that the prosecution has not produced enough evidence for the counts to go before a jury.

Both parties have made their closing speeches and the jury will begin their deliberations on Monday after being addressed by Judge McCartan.

The defence contend that Ms O'Rorke cannot be guilty of attempting to do something that never happened. Counsel asked jurors to "go in there, write the words' not guilty', come back out and send her home."

The prosecution has told jurors that they might not feel good about returning a guilty verdict but that it is up to the Oireachtas and not them to decide what is and isn't illegal.

Ms O'Rorke (43), a taxi driver from Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to aiding and abetting the suicide of Ms Forde by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20, 2011 and June 6, 2011 at a location in Dublin, and had also denied procured the suicide of Ms Forde between June 4 and June 6, 2011 by means of making funeral arrangements for Ms Forde in advance of her death.

She denies that she attempted to aid and abet the suicide of Ms Forde by means of attempting to arrange travel to Zurich, Switzerland for such purpose between March 10 and April 20, 2011.

ARGUMENT

Prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell SC told the jury in his address that the prosecution case "in a nutshell" is that Ms O'Rorke attempted to assist in the suicide of Ms Forde by booking the tickets to Zurich with Rathgar Travel.

He said it makes no difference that gardai foiled the plan and that Ms Forde or Ms O'Rorke never got to Zurich.

Mr Farrell referred to a defence argument that 85pc of people who travel to Dignitas don't go through with an assisted suicide. He said that it was "entirely irrelevant" whether Ms Forde went through with the act when she got there, and that the argument was "a red herring" thrown up by the defence to distract jurors.

Deliberations begin on Monday morning.

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