Thursday 27 July 2017

Former deputy state pathologist defends his work in Irish murder cases

Former deputy state pathologist Khalid Jaber Photo: El Keegan
Former deputy state pathologist Khalid Jaber Photo: El Keegan
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A former deputy state pathologist has defended the quality of his work, which is being reviewed following difficulties in two murder cases.

Saudi-born Dr Khalid Jaber told the Irish Independent he stood over the manner in which he conducted examinations while working in Ireland.

The review came after one murder trial collapsed and another was sent for a retrial amid concerns over the fact Dr Jaber’s work was not peer-reviewed.

However, Dr Jaber rejected the concerns and insisted post-mortem examinations he conducted and reports he compiled were of the highest standard.

“I stand by every word in all my reports from the time I touched the Irish soil until my departure from Ireland,” he said. “I also stand by all my work throughout my professional career.”

Dr Jaber became deputy state pathologist in 2009.

However, he resigned in controversial circumstances in 2013 after expressing unhappiness with the running of the Office of the State Pathologist and criticising the State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy.

He suggested she was not sufficiently qualified for the role, but this was rejected by the department, which expressed full confidence in Prof Cassidy.

It emerged at the weekend that a review of Dr Jaber’s work was conducted by Prof Cassidy following a development in a case.

Files from 2012 have already been reviewed, while cases from 2013 will be reviewed as they come to court.

It is unclear how many cases fall within the period under review and Dr Jaber declined to provide an estimate.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, he said he himself had suggested the “double signing” of reports by two pathologists when he took the job in 2009, but claims his suggestion was not taken up at that time.

Some time later Prof Cassidy issued an instruction that all work by individual pathologists on homicide cases be peer-reviewed by colleagues.

Dr Jaber said he engaged in a number of peer-reviews with Prof Cassidy, but it is evident this arrangement did not continue after a certain point.

In the statement, Dr Jaber outlined a number of misgivings about the process and claimed the Office of the State Pathologist was “dysfunctional” at the time he left.

Now working in the Middle East, Dr Jaber said he offered to return to Ireland to give evidence in cases in which he had been involved as pathologist in return for a fee of €30,000 per case.

“Not surprisingly, they got engaged in assigning my cases to others who are cheaper professionals and charge much less,” he said.

But Dr Jaber said it was not necessary for him to give evidence in person. He insisted the quality of his work was “so good” it would be “an easy job for any one pathologist or lawyer to use it for evidence and to follow up the case”.

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