Sunday 25 February 2018

Father ends case over unborn girl's crash death

Patrick and Mary Enright. Photo: Dan McGrath
Patrick and Mary Enright. Photo: Dan McGrath
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A landmark legal case seeking to clarify how the existence of an unborn child should be recorded in the event of their mother's death has been dropped.

Patrick Enright, whose pregnant wife Mary died in a road traffic accident, announced he was abandoning the High Court action against the State.

The move came after a coroner last month decided that a death certificate could be issued for the couple's unborn daughter Mollie.

Mr Enright said he was dropping the constitutional challenge as he had now done everything in his power to have Mollie's existence acknowledged.

He had initiated the proceedings in September 2014 seeking that Mollie be recognised as a person and also seeking clarification on how her existence should be recorded.

Central to the case was whether or not Mollie could be technically considered to have been born. Without such a declaration, it would not have been possible for a death certificate to be issued.

In a statement, Mr Enright said a legal difficulty was identified concerning the registration of Mollie under the Civil Registration Act 2004. He said that before the inquest it did not appear Mollie came within the definition of a stillbirth as defined by the Act. Mr Enright said that in the months leading up to the inquest, the coroner had indicated he would give a narrative verdict and would leave it up to a registrar to decide how to deal with the issue of how Mollie's life and death was recorded.

However, on the morning of the inquest, Tipperary coroner Paul Morris decided Mollie should be registered as a stillbirth.

He found that "as a matter of law, the removal or separation of the non-living foetus in the course of an autopsy from the mother, is a birth, and therefore her death is registerable as a stillbirth".

Mary Enright (28) died after a head-on collision with a car driven by Cork schoolboy Robert Stoker (17) near Bansha, Co Tipperary, in March 2012.

At the hearing last month, a jury found that both Mrs Enright and Mr Stoker died as a result of multi-traumatic injuries received in a road collision.

The jury also found that Mollie had died due to a lack of oxygen following her mother's death.

In his statement, Mr Enright said: "I have now decided with the full support of Mary's family and my own family that the constitutional challenge should be discontinued as we feel that we have now done all that is within our power to have Mollie's life and existence acknowledged.

"As Mollie's family, we would like to thank all those who have been a source of support to us in any way."

Irish Independent

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