A lawyer who worked on a previous baby murder trial believes Irish nanny Aisling Brady McCarthy has grounds to sue over her two-year imprisonment.
McCarthy, 37, from Co. Cavan, was wrongly charged with the murder of the one-year old baby in her care, Rehma Sabir, in 2013 and spent two years in prison in the US.
She was released in August 2015 following the presentation of evidence from nine outside experts attesting that the death was not homicide and she returned to Ireland.
It is now believed that the prosecution may have withheld vital evidence that extended her imprisonment when they were aware it could have proved her innocence
In her first interview since her release, McCarthy told the Boston Globe she was considering taking a civil action against Dr. Alice Newton, the doctor who first implicated her in the death of Rehma Sabir, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and prosecutors for the way in which her trial was handled.
A trial lawyer who defended British nanny Louise Woodward, who was charged with the involuntary manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen in Newton, MA in 2007, believes that the Irish former nanny should go ahead with this action.
"I say do it and here's why: first of all she'll never get over this, ever,” said Elaine Whitfield-Sharp.
"Meanwhile she has to document her damages, she probably has some post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Obviously she went through some humiliation and shame and there will be physical repercussions from all this emotional trauma."
The manner in which McCarthy’s life has changed as a result of the false murder charge was evident from her first interview since returning to Irish soil.
Speaking to the Boston Globe, the Cavan woman revealed how she left her home in Boston, a place where she had lived and worked for 15 years, where she had met and married her Co. Cork husband, with nothing but her dog following the nightmare experience.
After enjoying her first Christmas at home with all of her nine siblings and her third wedding anniversary with her husband, Don, the first one they’ve been able to celebrate together, McCarthy is faced with the prospect of starting life again at 37 years old in a country where her name has become notoriously linked with a baby’s death.
“I was a nanny. I’m not going to do that again,” she told Kevin Cullen. “Who’s going to want to hire a 37-year-old who’s been out of the country for 15 years?”
“I have no choice but to move on,” she continued. “I have changed. I don’t trust people like I used to. You’re nearly afraid to get to know people because they’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re the girl from Boston.’ It makes me want to cut my hair off and dye it black.”
The injustice of her imprisonment becomes all the more apparent when she speaks of her time in prison, the letters and cards she received from families whose children she had cared for in the 15 years previous, and the visits from one of these families with their young girls.
Several were willing to testify about her character on her behalf, but the police or prosecutors never spoke to her former employers before she was charged.
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 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.
McCarthy was charged with murder when prosecution medical expert Alice Newton concluded the young girl died from injuries, including severe bleeding in the back of the eyes, that indicated abusive head trauma, more commonly known as shaken baby syndrome.
The Boston Globe has since revealed that the prosecution withheld information regarding the diagnosis of eye specialist Dr. Alex Levin, who could not confirm the injuries sustained by Sabir were indicative of abusive head trauma but instead, may have been caused by an immune disorder called Job Syndrome.
The nanny remained in jail for one year before this evidence came to light.
In April 2015, the judge on the case ordered a full review of medical evidence, and also ordered the Middlesex DA to refrain from contacting the medical examiner.
McCarthy’s attorney Melinda Thompson declared that she would not be confident the review was completely independent unless the Middlesex DA did not contact the medical examiner.
“I felt the interactions [so far] were inappropriate,” Thompson told the Boston Globe, referring to emails which showed that the entire prosecution team was heavily involved with informing the medical examiner.
“We believed the review, on behalf of Aisling, the child’s family, and the Commonwealth, should be independent, without interference from the Middlesex district attorney’s office.”
Although the review eventually led to charges against McCarthy being dropped, this may have happened sooner if the evidence from eye specialist Levin had not been withheld from the defense.
Do you think Aisling Brady McCarthy should sue the Middlesex DA in light of her ordeal? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.