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good home Court clerk who placed Jason Corbett's children in the care of his sister has no regrets about his decision


Molly Martens and Jason Corbett

Molly Martens and Jason Corbett

Molly Martens and Jason Corbett

The American court clerk who placed Jason Corbett's children in the care of his sister has no regrets about his decision six years on from the ruling.

Two days after the killing of Jason Corbett, Molly Martens issued proceedings to be appointed the guardian of Sarah, who was eight at the time, and Jack Corbett, who was ten.

Both their natural parents were now dead, their mother, Margaret, had died on November 21, 2006, from an asthma attack while their father had died on August 2, 2015, from blunt force trauma to the head.

Their stepmother's custody bid was countered by an application for guardianship by their paternal aunt, Tracey Corbett Lynch and her husband, David Lynch.

On August 14 nearly two weeks after the death of their Limerick father, Brian Shipwash, the Clerk of the Superior Court for Davidson County, held a hearing on the case.

A few days later he made an order to appoint the Lynches as their guardians. He stated that it was in the best interests of the minor children.

In the new Virgin Media documentary, The Murder Files: The killing of Jason Corbet, the American judge has no regrets over his decision.


"There were some disparaging remarks regarding Molly, and the relationship", said Brian Shipwash, former Davidson County Superior Court Clerk in the documentary.

"And there was disparaging remarks brought up by Molly towards Jason."

Jason Corbett's will, which was signed in 2007, was read out in the court custody hearing.

It stated: "I appoint the said David Lynch and his wife Tracey Lynch (my sister) to be Guardians of my infant children."

In the documentary, Mr Shipwash, reveals the influence of the will on the custody hearing.

"In the will, Jason expressed that he wished for a guardian to be his sister and her husband. And so, in North Carolina, the law states that we should give that great weight, we don't have to follow it, but we should give that great weight and, in this situation, not only was it his wishes, but it was what I felt was in the children's best interest."

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He revealed how he called the attorneys together to announce his decision in his chambers.

"I ordered the attorneys, not to disclose this decision until the children were in the custody of the Davidson County Department of Social Services and Davidson County Department of Social Services was ordered to go to get the children, and to deliver them to the Lynch family.

"At the time that I made my decision, the children, with DSS in the room, were allowed to talk to Molly at some point in time.

"There is no doubt in my mind then and five, six years later, there's still no doubt that I made the correct decision."

On 18 December 2015, a grand jury indicted Molly and Tom for second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. The defendants pleaded not guilty, were granted bail and a joint trial was set for 17 July 2017 in Davidson County Superior Court.

On 9 August 2017, the jury returned verdicts finding defendants guilty of second-degree murder and they were sentenced to between 20 and 25 years each in prison.

An appeal on the judgement was filed almost immediately and on the 4th of February 2020, the North Carolina Court of Appeals stated: "Due to a number of prejudicial errors apparent within the record, we reverse the judgments entered upon Defendants' convictions for second-degree murder and remand for a new trial."

They concluded the trial court erred by excluding statements taken from the children, Jack and Sarah Corbett, in the days after their father was killed while in the custody of the Martens family. The children recanted what was in the North Carolina statements when they returned to Ireland.

The Court of Appeals also agreed with the defendants' contention that there were issues over the reliability of some of the blood spatter evidence in the trial.

The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals decision which granted Molly Martens and her father, Tom Martens, a full retrial, which is expected to be held next year.

After almost four years behind bars, the father and daughter walked free on bail in April this year. They have always maintained they acted entirely in self-defence on the night Jason Corbett was killed.

There was a huge outpouring of sympathy for the Corbett family in the wake of the devastating ruling.

North Carolina prosecutors are currently working on the painstaking process of planning for a retrial.

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