Sunday 25 August 2019

'Mountain out of a molehill' - Pathologist Jaber rejects criticism for not attending scene

Former Deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber
Former Deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination on Bobby Ryan has rejected criticism over not going to the scene where the slain DJ’s body was found.

Former deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber told  “a mountain was being made out of a molehill”.

During the trial of Pat Quirke for Mr Ryan’s murder, two other pathologists said they would have gone to inspect the body after it was found face down in a run-off tank containing water and effluent on Mary Lowry’s farm at Fawnagown, Co Tipperary in April 2013.

Prosecution witness Professor Jack Crane, the former Northern Ireland state pathologist, he would have gone to  conduct a preliminary examination, advise those removing the body and note any damage done to the corpse during removal.

Defence witness Dr Michael Curtis, the acting state pathologist, said had he been the pathologist on the day, he “definitely” would have attended the scene.

He said he would have advised gardaí on how best to recover the body so as not to damage it.

Dr Curtis said he would also have asked for an anthropologist to attend and would have contacted an entomologist for advice on what to do with any insects found on the body.

However, Saudi-born Dr Jaber, who is no longer working in Ireland, insisted there was nothing unusual about his non-attendance at the scene.

“It is likely there was an agreement and consensual understanding that I receive the body when it arrived at the mortuary,” he said.

Dr Jaber said this would have been “the best place” to “fully examine the body”.

“In reality what was done with the handling of Bobby Ryan’s body was most proper and correct,” he said.

He added that the situation had been explained correctly by a Garda superintendent at the trial. Supt Patrick O’Callaghan told the court Dr Jaber was contacted by gardaí but said he was not willing to attend the scene.

The superintendent said there were concerns about people getting into the tank.

Fire officers who removed the body wore full-body bio-hazard suits, equipment gardaí did not have access to.

“I didn’t think anyone could have gone into the tank to carry out an examination when you look at the gear the fire officers had to wear,” he said. Asked by defence counsel Lorcan Staines SC if he would do things the same way again, Supt O’Callaghan said he would.

Another garda, Detective  Sharon Langan of the Garda Technical Bureau, said it would not have been appropriate to engage with a body “in situ” in circumstances where there was a potential health and safety issue.

The trial heard Dr Jaber concluded Mr Ryan suffered multiple injuries that could have been caused by an accident, traffic collision or serious assault and that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Prof Crane believed a blunt instrument was used, but allowed for the possibility  the wounds were inflicted by a vehicle. Dr Curtis favoured a vehicle, but said a blunt instrument could have been the murder weapon.

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