Jury in assisted suicide case in second day of deliberations

CourtsBy Sunday World
Gail O'Rorke (second left) arriving at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Gail O'Rorke (second left) arriving at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

The jury in the trial of a taxi driver in connection with the alleged assisted suicide of an MS sufferer have begun a second day of deliberations.

In the first prosecution of its kind in this country, Gail O'Rorke, 43, from Kilclare Gardens in Tallaght, Dublin, is charged with attempting to aid and abet a friend's death by arranging travel to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland between March 10 and April 20 2011.

Bernadette Forde, 51, a former employee with Guinness, died at her home in Morehampton Mews, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 on June 6 2011.

She was unable to travel to Zurich after a travel agent alerted gardai that flights had been booked.

The jury of six men and six women, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, failed to reach a decision after deliberating yesterday for more than three-and-a-half hours.

Judge Patrick McCartan told the jury today they could return a majority verdict.

"If you can work towards unanimity continue to do so, failing that then a majority verdict is available to you," the judge said.

Judge McCartan told the jury that under law they must be given a minimum of two hours to return a unanimous verdict.

They were told a majority verdict would require at least 10 jurors in agreement.

And the judge stressed: "There is no impatience on our part."

O'Rorke, who was Ms Forde's cleaner before becoming her friend and carer over 10 years, was last week found not guilty on two charges over the alleged assisted suicide.

Judge McCartan directed the verdicts.

O'Rorke pleaded not guilty to three counts in connection with the death. She was cleared of aiding and abetting Ms Forde's suicide between April 20 and June 6 in 2011 by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance.

Ms Forde had signed for a package of drugs from Mexico after a courier delivered it to her home.

O'Rorke was also found not guilty of procuring the suicide by making funeral arrangements from June 4-6 2011 in advance of Ms Forde's death.

Ms Forde was found dead in a wheelchair in her living room having taken a lethal dose of barbiturates.

She was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 2001 and forced to give up her job in Guinness' human resources department.

Ms Forde was confined to a wheelchair in 2008 after a car accident in a car park when her leg seized while driving, jamming the accelerator and slamming the vehicle into a wall.