The parents of Rehma Sabir, the one-year-old baby who died in 2013 while under the care of Irish nanny Aisling Brady McCarthy, have filed a wrongful death suit against her.
McCarthy, a Co Cavan native, spent two and a half years in prison in Massachusetts, charged with murdering Sabir. The Medical Examiner had initially determined Sabir’s injuries to be consistent with Shaken Infant Syndrome. However, the case was thrown out at the end of August following the presentation of evidence from nine outside experts attesting that the death was not homicide. As McCarthy had been in the US illegally after the tourist visa on which she entered in 2002 expired, she was immediately repatriated to Ireland.
The new lawsuit, filed in Middlesex County Superior Court, claims that McCarthy caused Rehma’s death due to her “negligent, malicious, willful, wonton, reckless and/or grossly negligent acts.”
Speaking with the Boston Globe, Rehma’s parents, Sameer Sabir and Nada Siddiqui, said that they were filing the suit as a way of ensuring that McCarthy would not attempt to profit from the story of their child’s death – through a book or film deal, for example – and claimed that this is the only way to do so.
“Sameer and I want to emphasize that our purpose in filing this suit is to prevent Aisling McCarthy from profiting from our daughter’s death,” Siddiqui said. “We lost our beautiful little girl in very difficult circumstances, and feel compelled to bring this suit to protect her memory.”
McCarthy had been taking care of Rehma Sabir for six months when the baby was found unconscious in her crib and rushed to the hospital with head injuries on January 14, 2013. She died two days later on her first birthday and McCarthy was charged with her murder.
The original medical report found that Rehma died from blunt-force head injuries, but also that the child had pre-existing bone fractures. McCarthy always maintained her innocence and claimed that Rehma died from injuries sustained on a family holiday while not in her care and proclaimed her innocence. Expert witnesses for the defense also noted that Rehma was often sick and had suffered bone fractures in her spine weeks before her death while traveling with her mother and not in the nanny’s care.
“We believe not only that she was negligent but that she was liable for the death,’’ the Sabirs’ attorney Jonathan Friedman, told the Globe. “There is reason for us to be concerned that the defendant intends to profit from the baby’s death while professing publicly to be grieving over it,” he added.
The Sabirs, who have had two sons in the years since the tragic death of their first-born child, are seeking at least $25,000 in damages – the minimum amount permissible in a wrongful death suit.
Melinda Thompson, one of the attorneys who defended McCarthy, called the lawsuit “shocking and disturbing.”
“To sue someone for money, for someone who is literally trying to get back on her feet, it’s shocking,” she said.
In McCarthy’s first interview since returning to Ireland, she had discussed the possibility of taking a civil action against Dr. Alice Newton, the doctor who first implicated her in Sabir’s death, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and prosecutors for the way in which her trial was handled.