Jury to resume deliberations in assisted suicide trial on Tuesday

by jimmykeogh30

Mon Apr 27th  http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/jury-to-resume-deliberations-in-assisted-suicide-trial-on-tuesday-1.2190556

The jury in the trial of a woman accused of helping her friend take her own life will resume their deliberations on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Judge Patrick McCartan described the accused as a “faithful, honest, decent woman” who was “faced with an immense dilemma”.

Charging the jury on Monday morning, Judge Patrick McCartan at the Circuit Criminal Court told them it was an offence to attempt to aid or abet someone in killing themselves.

“I can’t be clearer; that is the law and you are duty bound by it,” he said.

Gail O’Rorke (43), of Kilclare Gardens in Tallaght, Dublin had pleaded not guilty to three charges relating to the death ofBernadette Forde (51), who died of an overdose in June, 2011.

Last week the judge ordered the jury to find Ms O’Rorke not guilty on two of the three charges.

These were aiding and abetting the suicide by helping Ms Forde procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20th and June 6th, 2011 and of making funeral arrangements before her death. Ms Forde died of an overdose in June 2011.

However, she remains charged with attempting to help Ms Forde travel to Zurich in Switzerland where she had intended to visit the Dignitas euthanasia support centre.

The jury officially began deliberations at 11.11am and finished at 4pm. They must reach a unanimous verdict.

“When it comes to the facts of the case you are the authority and nobody can interfere with your position,” the judge told the jury.

He reminded them the accused did not have to give evidence, and of the presumption of innocence, and said they must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the facts of the case before they could consider a guilty verdict.

Advising them on the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act of 1993, he said that under Section 2 it was no longer an offence to commit suicide but it was for anyone to aid or abet a suicide.

Ms O’Rorke’s prosecution is the first of its kind under the legislation.

“This charge is about the travel arrangements,” he said.

The accused is specifically charged with an attempt to aid and abet a suicide, the judge added.

Explaining the law, he said that in order to attempt such an offence, someone’s actions must be real and with intent. They must be proximate, “not in distance but in acts and, in particular, that they are not remote”.

He told them when Ms O’Rorke was originally intercepted by gardaí at the travel agents she visited they did not pursue the offence, taking instead the “humanitarian route”.

However, he explained, it was their entitlement to apply discretion in such cases, for “humane” reasons.

This had no bearing on the case before them. “It was open to the guards to change their views,” he said.

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