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State pathologist says she's surprised Graham Dwyer was convicted

Marie Cassidy
Marie Cassidy

THE State pathologist Marie Cassidy has said she was surprised at the jury's guilty verdict in the Graham Dywer murder trial, based on the lack of pathological evidence.

Speaking after a presentation to staff medical students at the Post Graduate Centre at University Hospital Limerick, Professor Cassidy described the case as "fascinating" when she was asked her medical opinion of the two month trial that gripped the nation

The State pathologist recalled examining the remains of Elaine O'Hara's along with her other colleagues.

"We knew there was no pathology evidence to support anything so it came to what other evidence did they have, and it's up to them to make a case and to present this case, and if they think the case is going to stand up in court then the DPP will go ahead with it.

"In that case, I thought no, they will not go ahead with it... and then when we were waiting for the verdict coming in I said, it has to be not guilty," she admitted.

During her presentation; 'Trust me I'm a Forensic Scientist'  Professor Cassidy welcomed defence autopsies, where a second post mortem is carried out by another forensic pathologist  in cases of murder or homocides,

"One of the most useful things and probably keeping us in check and making sure that things are done properly is the defence autopsy. In most cases now where there has been a homicide or a murder there will be a second autopsy carried out by another forensic pathologists. Safe guards and checks are a marvellous thing," she said.

According to Professor Cassidy some pathologists say they don't like people checking over their work however she said described the process as "a marvellous thing from everybody's point of view".

"People are looking for two very different things. If you have a defence autopsy it means then that you've got someone coming in and checking to make sure you have got the facts right and then also reviewing our opinion and saying is that a fair enough thing to say?

"And that is a great thing to be doing and I welcome it, It took a long time for them to get it going here but now they are used to having it done... and that means we have got to make sure when we say something we can stand over it and we can stand by our opinion."

Prior to her appointment as State Pathologist in Ireland in 1998, Dr Cassidy worked in the Forensic Department at Glasgow University.

She is Professor of Forensic Medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland which involves teaching Forensic Medicine to medical students.

As part of her forensic work she has been involved with the U.N. since the mid 1990’s.

She has travelled to Bosnia on several occasions, as well as to Croatia and latterly to Sierra Leone as part of a team involved in the investigation of war crimes, in particular the examination of bodies from mass graves.