Monday 19 March 2018

'Our son was promised he'd be cured of cancer'

Christina and Derek O'Sullivan at Ennis courthouse.
Christina and Derek O'Sullivan at Ennis courthouse.

Gordon Deegan

The mother of a terminally ill teenager told a jury yesterday that her son was promised that he would be cured of cancer or "at worst kept alive".

Christina O'Sullivan said that Paschal Carmody claimed his photodynamic form of treatment for cancer "would work a treat" on the 15-year-old.

The promise from Mr Carmody came on July 9, 2002 at his East Clinic in Killaloe, Co Clare, she told Ennis Circuit Court.

Two months before this, in May 2002, Conor was told by his consultant doctor that he had six months to live after his cancer had returned.

Mrs O'Sullivan said that on July 29, Conor underwent the photodynamic treatment for three hours.

However, she said that Conor got very upset "when hives as large as cherry tomatoes" started to appear on his skin during the treatment.

Conor, from Granite Lodge, Gorey, Co Wexford died four months after the consultation with Mr Carmody on November 13, 2002.

Mr Carmody (60) of Ballycuggaran, Killaloe, Co Clare, has pleaded not guilty to 25 separate charges of obtaining €80,172 from six terminally ill cancer patients and their families by deception between September 2001 and October 2002.

Counsel for the State, Denis Vaughan Buckley, said in court yesterday that all the patients died.


Recounting the meeting with Mr Carmody yesterday in court, Mrs O'Sullivan said: "Mr Carmody came from behind his desk and put his arm around Conor and said 'I'll cure you of cancer and, at worst, if I don't I'll at least keep you alive'."

Counsel for Mr Carmody, Pat Marrinan, said that his client would dispute that.

But Mrs O'Sullivan said: "Those words will never, ever leave my mind."

Mr Marrinan also disputed that Mr Carmody said that the treatment "would work a treat".

Mrs O'Sullivan said that at the meeting, Mr Carmody did not perform any physical examination of Conor.

In evidence, Mrs O'Sullivan said that she was willing to do anything to keep her son alive and turned her back on conventional medicine.

She said: "We wanted to give it a shot. We have didn't have anything to lose."

Conor was diagnosed with a form of cancer, Ewing Sarcoma, in March 2001 and from March to November 2001, he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

The course of treatment was complete in April 2002. However, an MRI scan at the Blackrock Clinic in May 2002 showed that the tumour had returned.

Mrs O'Sullivan said that after a session of photodynamic treatment was arranged for her son at Mr Carmody's clinic "we felt the weight of the world had lifted from our shoulders. Cloud Nine is the only way that I can describe it".

Mrs O'Sullivan paid €9,610 to Mr Carmody between July and September 2002. After the session of photodynamic treatment, Mrs O'Sullivan said there was no follow-up treatment.

However, Conor's health deteriorated and he died on November 13, 2002.

In his opening statement, Mr Vaughan Buckley said that photodynamic treatment was a form of treatment that could be used for cancer but was "an inappropriate treatment" for deep-rooted cancer.


Mr Vaughan Buckley also told the jury of nine men and three women that Mr Carmody had explained to another terminally ill patient, John James Gallagher, that the treatment involved injecting a liquid into the body that attached itself to the cancerous tumour.

Carmody then told Mr Gallagher and his wife, Bernadette, that a laser light would shine on the body and lift the tumours from the organs.

Mr Gallagher said: "Like magic?" Mr Carmody is alleged to have responded: "Magic is right."

The Gallaghers subsequently paid €15,594 to Mr Carmody in January and February 2002 for the treatment. Asked by Mr Gallagher's children would he be able to hold the cancer at bay, Mr Carmody is alleged to have said: "We are not only going to hold it at bay, but we are going to destroy it."

However, a CT scan in March 2002 showed that his tumour had increased and Mr Gallagher died in September of that year.

The trial continues before Judge Rory McCabe today.

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