Aisling Brady McCarthy, the Irish nanny who was acquitted of the murder of 1-year-old Rehma Sabir after spending more than two years in prison, is now trying to move on with a new life in Ireland.
“I have no choice but to move on,” she told columist Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe. “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.”
McCarthy left Boston in September, leaving behind all her possessions except her terrier lab Addie. She flew home with her sister Sharon; they held hands and cried for the first hour of the flight.
After she landed at Shannon Airport reporters followed her everywhere and even camped outside her mother’s house in County Cavan.
McCarthy and her husband Don snuck away to her mother’s house in Galway. The couple celebrated their third anniversary, the first one when she wasn’t in jail, with a quiet dinner at an Italian restaurant.
“We were home by 10,” she says. “Don and I are not ones for going out much.”
Don has found work house painting in his native Cork, but McCarthy hasn’t been able to find work.
“I was a nanny. I’m not going to do that again,” she said. “Who’s going to want to hire a 37-year-old who’s been out of the country for 15 years?”
McCarthy spoke of how 10 police officers showed up at her house in Wollaston to arrest her while her husband was at work. The cops wouldn’t let her change out of her pajamas or even let her leave her dog Addie some water.
She was thrown into prison in Framingham, MA.
“I was terrified,” she said. “I wouldn’t come out of my cell.”
Lawyers David Meier and Mindy Thompson took her case and eventually were able to show that McCarthy was wrongly accused of causing violent head trauma to Rehma Sabir, the baby who had been in her care.
As the case against her began to collapse, McCarthy says she gained a certain status among her fellow prisoners. They believed she was innocent and would high-five her when passing, reports The Boston Globe.
She says she got cards and letters from all over the world and from the families of children she had taken care of over the years.
“That’s what kept me going,” she said. “That and the support of my family.”
She says she grieves for Rehma, whose cause of death remains a mystery.
“I looked after Rehma 10 hours a day, five days a week,” she said. “I stayed over to help her sleep train. I’ve been looking after kids since I was 13. I had seven younger brothers and sisters. I started with a family in Lexington with seven kids. I always got work by word of mouth.”
She says that after she was released, lawyer Mindy Thompson, who McCarthy calls “my guardian angel,” visited her in Ireland. Locals treated Thompson like a rock star and lined up to hug her.
McCarthy’s two brothers came back from Australia for Christmas. It was the first time in 15 years the entire family was together for Christmas.
“Mammy was in her glory,” says McCarthy, one of 10 siblings.
Although she misses Boston, she says she could never go back. And although she might like to visit elsewhere in America, she is banned from returning to the U.S. for 10 years for overstaying her visa and living in the country illegally all those years.
While McCarthy hopes to put the last few years behind her, she says she still wants Dr. Alice Newton, the doctor who first implicated her in the death of Rehma Sabir, and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and prosecutors, who a judge found withheld exculpatory evidence, to be held accountable.
“They weren’t just wrong in my case, they were reckless,” she says. “And they never lost a minute’s sleep. They just moved on to the next case. I want to expose this because I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
The Boston Globe states that McCarthy is planning use the civil courts to explain what happened to her in a criminal court, but is torn by her desire to move on and a compulsion to use her case to show how unchecked power can needlessly ruin lives.
“If I don’t let go, it will consume me,” she said. “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I want to move on.”
“What happened to me has given me a new perspective,” she said. “When I was in prison, I had a loving family that came to see me. I called my husband twice a day. Some of the girls had nobody. Some people have nothing. No matter what, your life is always better than someone else’s.”