Sunday 18 February 2018

Assisted suicide case accused is 'faithful, honest, decent woman who faced an immense dilemma' - jury told

Gail O'Rorke at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where she has pleaded not guilty to several charges
Gail O'Rorke at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where she has pleaded not guilty to several charges
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

The jury in the trial of a woman accused of helping her friend take her own life has been told that the accused woman Gail O'Rorke is a "faithful, honest and decent woman" who faced an "immense dilemma".

But trial judge Mr Justice Patrick McCartan has told the jury that the case - which is the first prosecution of its kind in Ireland - is not about emotion.

"You must be fair, you must be objective" said Judge McCartan told jurors this morning.

The judge told the jury of six men and six women that while the facts are their responsibility, it is not open to them make up the law themselves.

Last Friday the jury were ordered to find Gail O'Rorke not guilty on two of the three charges against her.

Following legal argument at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Patrick McCartan ordered the jury to acquit Gail O'Rorke (43) of ordering a lethal dose of barbiturates from Mexico which were later taken by Bernadette Forde (51) to end her life.

The judge also told the jury of six men and six women to find Ms O'Rorke not guilty of "procuring" the suicide of her friend by helping to organise her funeral before her death.

Ms O'Rorke remains accused of attempting to help Ms Forde get to a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland, a plan that was thwarted when the travel agent alerted gardaí.

Judge McCartan is presently charging the jury and a verdict could be returned on the sole count today.

At the outset of his charge, the judge urged the jury to bring common sense and their everyday experience to their deliberations.

"Experience of life is important when it comes to assessing the facts of the case," said the judge, who said that if jurors were driven by their emotions, a true verdict may not be achieved.

Last Friday Judge McCartan told jurors that he was ordering not guilty verdicts in the final two charges because he agreed with the defence's argument that the prosecution has not produced enough evidence to convict her on the counts.

Ms O'Rorke (43), a taxi driver from Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to aiding and abetting the suicide of Ms Forde by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20, 2011 and June 6, 2011 at a location in Dublin.

She also denied that she attempted to aid and abet the suicide of Ms Forde by means of attempting to arrange travel to Zurich, Switzerland for such purpose between March 10 and April 20, 2011 and that she procured the suicide of Ms Forde between June 4 and June 6, 2011 by means of making funeral arrangements for Ms Forde in advance of her death.

The trial continues.

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