Doctor guilty of professional misconduct

Thursday 03 March 2016 23.26
Dr James Cassidy is a former Tyrone GAA team doctor
Dr James Cassidy is a former Tyrone GAA team doctor

A Medical Council inquiry has found a Louth GP who was accused of conspiring with others to attempt to forge the will of a woman who left €1.9m guilty of two counts of professional misconduct.

Dr James Cassidy, a former Tyrone GAA team doctor, was convicted in June 2014 in Newry of conspiring with others to attempt to doctor the will of Catherine 'Kitty' Haughey between December 2004-2007 and to fake a sale of property.

Dr Cassidy, 64, a GP in Killyman Road, Dungannon, had a practice in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Suspicions were raised when Ms Haughey's will was changed two weeks before her death.

The south Armagh publican was widowed and childless and was found dead in the living quarters of her pub.

Her body was exhumed and a post-mortem examination confirmed death due to natural causes.

Last year Dr Cassidy, also known as Seamus, pleaded guilty to the will conspiracy and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years.

It was also alleged that Dr Cassidy failed to notify the council on his application for registration that he had been convicted in a court of law.

Dr Cassidy told the inquiry he failed to declare to the council in May 2009 that he was convicted of drunken driving in Northern Ireland.

The professional misconduct findings relate to the road traffic offence. 

The inquiry also found against him on the conviction in Newry.

The inquiry found proven, the allegations relating to the conviction outside the State, for an offence that, if done or made in the State, would constitute an offence triable on indictment.

A decision on any sanction will be made at a later date.

Ken Connolly, barrister for Dr Cassidy, told the inquiry earlier that Dr Cassidy was deeply ashamed of his actions.

He said Dr Cassidy was not seeking personal sympathy but had endured 11 difficult years.

Dr Cassidy was a doctor since 1976 and there had never been a clinical complaint. Mr Connolly said Dr Cassidy was a sole practitioner in Co Louth with staff and only in private practice.

He was hoping the council would deal with the matter short of suspension or erasure from the register, given those circumstances.

Dr Cassidy told the inquiry he was ashamed and remorseful. He was embarrassed for his family and his profession, he said.

He was ashamed that he purported to witness the signature of a will but he was under extreme pressure and duress.

Dr Cassidy said the duress to witness the will "signature" was made by a patient, referred to as 'Mr A'.

He said the threat increased and extended to his family and was in the context of the geopolitical area.

He told the inquiry the threat was "credible and real" and Mr A was no longer at liberty.

He said no harm came to his family but Mr A had previously enforced such threats.

"I was trapped and I made the wrong choice", said Dr Cassidy.