The first view we had of Aisling Brady McCarthy was the day of her arrest in 2013 – teary-eyed, unkempt, looking like she had just survived a bar brawl. Indeed, we were soon fed the information that in fact she had been in a fight with her husband in a bar.
The prosecutors were soon spreading their malign version of events about this deadly, evil Irish woman who had used incredible force to smash a baby’s head against a bureau or some thick wooden object, and then pretended to be as distraught as the parents whom she comforted in the hospital.
What manner of evil was this, the prosecutors argued, slapping her in jail for two and a half years without bail, the equivalent of a five year sentence with parole even though she was only a suspect at this time.
As Peter Gelzinis wrote in the Boston Herald, “Our first glimpse of Aisling Brady McCarthy seemed to fulfill all our worst fears about the nanny from hell, charged with killing the infant in her care by what police and a controversial medical expert said was “blunt force trauma.
“The Irish national looked bereft, disheveled … the epitome of the hapless illegal immigrant who could deliver a beating to her boyfriend in a bar, as we were told she had.”
Yet there was one woman who was having none of it. Like British attorney Gareth Peirce, who defended the Birmingham Six and Guildford four when all around condemned them, Melinda Thompson firmly believed her client was innocent.
It was Thompson who dared to challenge the judge on the disputed theory of shaken baby syndrome.
When the media clamored for Thompson to explain herself as to who she thought killed the baby, Thompson replied, “Maybe nobody killed her.”
This proved to be exactly right as the new autopsy showed poor little Rehma Sabir suffered from a dreadful blood and bone disease that condemned her to major injury after even the slightest bump or touch.
“What I was provided with,” Thompson told the Herald, “just didn’t seem to add up. The theory was that throughout the course of that day, sometime before the parents came home, my client shook the child with the force of a motor vehicle collision causing severe brain injuries and then smashed her down on a changing table, causing the thoracic vertebrae to break. That just struck me as something that was impossible.”
What the prosecution failed to make public was that Rehma had been suffering chronic bad health for months, never more obvious than when she took a trip to her parents' home country of Pakistan.
Amazingly the medical examiner's first report failed to point out the significance of all that, and stated that the death was shaken baby syndrome.
“Everybody was misled,” Thompson said on Monday.
The second report of the medical examiner was definitive in proving Thompson right and proving Brady McCarthy’s innocence.
That report said, “I believe that enough evidence has been presented to raise the possibility that the bleeding could have been related to an accidental injury in a child with a bleeding risk or possibly could have even been a result of an undefined natural disease. As such I am amending the cause and manner of death to reflect this uncertainty.”
It has all come too late for 37-year-old Brady McCarthy, whose life has been destroyed by these accusations. But at least justice finally spoke – thanks mostly to Melinda Thompson.