Thursday 19 January 2017

'Thank you' - the words an emotional Gail O'Rorke whispered as she was acquitted

Published 28/04/2015 | 17:33

Gail O’Rorke, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where she was found not guilty to aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the suicide of Bernadette Forde (51) by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20, 2011 and June 6, 2011 at a location in Dublin. Pic: Courts Collins.
Gail O’Rorke, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where she was found not guilty to aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the suicide of Bernadette Forde (51) by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20, 2011 and June 6, 2011 at a location in Dublin. Pic: Courts Collins.

It was a dam burst of pent-up emotion.

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For seven gruelling days, Gail O'Rorke had fought bravely to remain resolutely composed in Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court.

Her face seemed to cloak a myriad of emotions, especially as the final moments of her court ordeal came to its dramatic conclusion.

When the jury departed shortly after 10.30am this morning to continue their deliberations, the residual tension, and sense of expectation in the courtroom, was palpable.

The wait seemed interminable as one hour blended into another.

And then, shortly after 3pm, the jury returned.

They had been considering their verdict for just under seven hours.

The 43-year-old visibly shook as she sat in the dock, her head resting on clenched fists.

Gail O’Rorke with her husband Barry at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where she was found not guilty aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the suicide of Bernadette Forde. Pic: Courts Collins.
Gail O’Rorke with her husband Barry at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where she was found not guilty aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the suicide of Bernadette Forde. Pic: Courts Collins.
Tom Curran partner of Marie Fleming at the trial of Gail O’Rorke at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Pic: Courts Collins.

As she stared into the distance, lost in her own thoughts, she dabbed her eyes with a white handkerchief.

The floral designs on her black dress provided a tinge of colour in contrast to her drawn and bleak complexion.

She threw her family a worrying glance, steeling herself for the judgement to come.

But as the words 'Not Guilty' punctured the silence in Court 17, the veneer of restraint collapsed.

Read more: Assisted suicide trial: Gail O’Rorke (43) found not guilty of helping friend take own life

She could no longer conceal the torrent of emotions which had engulfed her all week - and seemed to visibly slump with the sheer relief of it all.

The full realisation that her legal ordeal was over brought its own release.

Her eyes welled up as she hugged her husband, Barry, who also broke down in tears.

She then sat back down and could be seen whispering the words 'Thank you' at the jury as they left.

Flanked by family and friends, she walked purposefully from court a free woman.

Afterwards, she said the experience has left her drained and exhausted.

"The last four years and in particular the last three years have been very difficult for my family and me," she said.

"The family of my dear late friend, Bernadette Forde, have had to endure intrusions into her privacy which she always guarded so carefully.

"The trial has now concluded with the hoped for verdict," she added.

And in a statement, issued by her legal team to the media, she also thanked her family and friends for their "incredible support", especially during the past three weeks.

The experience had been "gruelling" for all concerned, she said.

Mrs O’Rorke also stressed she will not be making any further comment.

She asked that her privacy be respected.

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