Court orders murder retrial after pathologist’s evidence challenged

Colm Deely was convicted of murder in 2013. His conviction has now been quashed.

The State has asked the Court of Appeal to quash a murder conviction and order a retrial after it emerged that the then deputy State pathologist Khalid Jabbar’s work was not peer-reviewed.

Colm Deely, aged 44, of School Rd, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Deirdre McCarthy, 43, at a place unknown on or about March 28, 2011. Her body was found on Fanore Beach, Co Clare, on March 31, 2011.

A Central Criminal Court jury found Mr Deely guilty of murder and he was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Barry White on June 27, 2013.

Mr Deely was due to appeal his conviction in the Court of Appeal yesterday. However, before the appeal was opened, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Paul Greene, asked the three-judge court to quash Deely’s conviction and direct a retrial.

Last month, Mr Deely’s lawyers filed a motion seeking leave to adduce new evidence for the appeal.

Solicitor Gearoid Geraghty, for Mr Deely, submitted that there was “unchallenged evidence” that Dr Jabbar’s work in this case was “not peer-reviewed”.

In an affidavit grounding the motion to adduce new evidence, Mr Geraghty stated that he wrote to the chief prosecution solicitor in March 2016 “to ascertain whether Dr Jabbar’s work in this case was peer-reviewed as required”.

In June, the chief prosecution solicitor “responded and indicated that it was not”, Mr Geraghty stated.

“This was the first time I became aware of this very serious deficiency in Dr Jabbar’s procedures,” he said.

Mr Geraghty said that, in 2103, his office had taken the “unusual step” of requesting the disclosure of material “relating to Dr Jabbar’s professional qualifications, complaints made against him, and, in particular, complaints made by any State employees against him”.

In May 2013, the chief state solicitor replied and “complained” that an attempt was being made to put into issue the character of Dr Jabbar and that the defence’s request for disclosure was “irrelevant and a general trawl”.

“Arising out of what is now known about Dr Jabbar,” Mr Geraghty said his request for disclosure of material related to Dr Jabbar ahead of the trial “was far from irrelevant and in fact could not have been more pertinent”.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, quashed Mr Deely’s 2013 conviction and ordered a retrial.

Mr Deely was remanded in custody to appear before the Central Criminal Court on January 16.


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