Review by leading US pathologist may clear Irish farmer hanged over killing in 1940
Irish Government considers posthumously exonerating a man hanged for murder
An Irish farmer sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of an unmarried mother, may have been innocent, according to a leading U.S. pathologist.
Harry Gleeson, 38, was executed after a judge found him guilty of the murder of his neighbor, Mary 'Moll' McCarthy, known as ‘Foxy Moll' due to her flaming red hair. A mother of seven, she was shot in the face at close range.
Gleeson maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
Earlier this year Justice Minister Alan Shatter ordered a cold case review following a campaign by Gleeson’s surviving relatives.
The farmer found the victim’s body on November 21, 1940, in a field on his uncle's farm near New Inn, Co Tipperary.
A review carried out by the director of forensic neuropathology at the Boston office of the Chief Medical Examiner has questioned the prosecution’s theory about the timing of McCarthy’s death.
Her body temperature was recorded at the crime scene as 96 degrees Fahrenheit; four hours after Gleeson reported the find to police.
The warmth of the victim’s body suggests she was killed that morning, however prosecution claimed that Gleeson had murdered McCarthy the previous evening.
Dr Peter M E Cummings said the victim’s death could be determined by the temperature.
According to the Irish Independent, "the best scientific answer" was that McCarthy had been dead three to eight hours when she was discovered.
The Irish Attorney General has appointed a Senior Counsel to review the original conviction based on the “new” forensic evidence unearthed by the Justice for Harry Gleeson Group (JfHG).
JFHG also worked alongside the Irish Innocence Project on their exoneration case.
Tertius Van Eeden, the lead caseworker in the Innocence Project review of the Gleeson conviction, welcomed the ruling.
"This pathologist report certainly supports our position that the prosecutions case was flawed," Van Eeden said.
"The report confirms that the murder took place in the morning or sometime during the night while Gleeson was at home and sleeping and accounted for."
According to “Murder at Marlhill, Was Harry Gleeson innocent?” by Marcus Bourke, Gleeson’s final words before his execution were. “The last thing I want to say is that I will pray tomorrow that whoever did it will be discovered, and that the whole thing will be like an open book.”
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