O’Rorke cleared of assisted suicide charges

A jury in the trial of a woman accused of helping her friend take her own life has been ordered to find her not guilty on two of the three charges against her due to a lack of evidence.

O’Rorke cleared of assisted suicide charges

Following legal argument at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Patrick McCartan ordered the jury to acquit Gail O’Rorke, aged 43, of ordering a lethal dose of barbiturates from Mexico which were later taken by Bernadette Forde, 51, to end her life.

The judge also told the jury of six men and six women to find Ms O’Rorke not guilty of “procuring” the suicide of her friend by helping to organise her funeral before her death.

Ms O’Rorke remains accused of attempting to help Ms Forde get to the Swiss euthanasia clinic Dignitas, a plan thwarted when a travel agent alerted gardaí.

Both parties have made their closing speeches and the jury will begin its deliberations on Monday after being addressed by Judge McCartan.

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The defence contends Ms O’Rorke cannot be guilty of attempting to do something that never happened.

Counsel asked jurors to “go in there, write the words ‘not guilty’, come back out and send her home”.

The prosecution has told jurors they might not feel good about returning a guilty verdict but it was up to the Oireachtas and not them to decide what was and was not illegal.

Ms O’Rorke, a taxi driver from Kilclare Gardens in Tallaght, pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the charges.

She denies she attempted to aid and abet the suicide of Ms Forde by means of attempting to arrange travel to Zurich, Switzerland for such purpose between March 10 and April 20, 2011 and that she procured the suicide of Ms Forde between June 4 and June 6, 2011 by means of making funeral arrangements for Ms Forde in advance of her death.

Prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell said “in a nutshell” Ms O’Rorke attempted to assist in the suicide of Ms Forde by booking the tickets to Zurich with Rathgar Travel.

He said it makes no difference that gardaí foiled the plan and that Ms Forde or Ms O’Rorke never got to Switzerland.

“Gail O’Rorke is an exceptionally decent person,” Mr Farrell said. “There can be no doubt that everything she did was informed out of loyalty, out of love, for Ms Forde. I want to be entirely clear that the prosecution do not for a moment suggest otherwise.”

He said Ms O’Rorke’s claim she did not know she was committing an offence when booking the tickets is not relevant as “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

Defence counsel Dermott McGuinness said the prosecution was asking jurors to criminalise the conduct of “an exceptionally good woman”. Quoting established law on “aiding and abetting” offences, he said they “normally refer to an offender who is present or nearby at the time of the commission of the offence”.

Counsel asked how Ms O’Rorke could have aided and abetted something that never happened. Ms Forde never travelled to Zurich and even if she had, that doesn’t mean she would have committed suicide there. “Flying to Switzerland isn’t suicide or attempted suicide. Did you ever think that you could go into a travel agent’s and book a flight and try and get the tickets and wind up on the wrong end of an indictment?” he said.

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