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Friday, February 17, 2006

"I grew up in a bubble, your honour"

Journalist relieved at acquittal
16 February 2006 22:16

A Sunday Mirror journalist who has been acquitted by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of forging prescriptions has said she is 'incredibly relieved it is all over'. Naomi McElroy, from Grove Park Drive in Glasnevin, had pleaded not guilty to ten counts of forging and presenting the prescriptions in five Dublin pharmacies. On the third day of the trial she was acquitted by direction of the trial judge following legal argument.

Afterwards, she said that all she had set out to do was her job and pursued the story after her editor read an article in a medical journal that anyone can fill a prescription and get a prescription pad from a printers. She said she did not even know she was breaking the law and never thought she would be prosecuted.

So Ms. McElroy was acquitted for forging prescriptions - she did not even know she was breaking the law - spare me, please!. How could she not know she was breaking the law? She didn't grow up in a bubble somewhere, I presume. Whilst I acknowledge that we don't all know the intricacies of the law we do know generally whats legal and whats not. Even if you're not particularly well educated or informed, which I presume she is, given her occupation, how could one never have seen somebody being arrested on TV for just such a crime? I don't believe that she genuinely didn't know that it was a crime to forge a prescription. Also, the fact that she was just doing her job doesn't make the crime any less a crime.

I know in the bigger scheme of things it was a relatively minor crime (as she wasn't going to sell the drugs or anything like that) but you sometimes gotta wonder at the stupidity of the defenses people put forward for their stupid actions.

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Omaniblog said...

I feel you are absolutely right. She knew it was illegal. But doesn't the law require the prosecution to prove that she knew it? That's the beauty of having a legal system: it requires the prosecution to make a convincing case, not simply say "of course we all know you're guilty, don't we..." I think it's the core difference between mob rule and the rule of law. Law allows people to get away with it, if the prosecution doesn't put up a convincing case. I remember being on jury service: the accused was charged with selling stolen property. I felt he had sold the goods while knowing that they were stolen. But the prosecution case was poorly presented: it was not convincing. So the defence won. I felt protected by the experience: if I ever get charged with a serious offence and appear before a jury, I'll have the law to protect me.
Not guilty doesn't mean you didn't do it. The journalist has done us all a favour by exposing how easy it was to get pads of prescriptions. Now the authorities can plug the holes...

I like your strong views.

Curly K said...

I agree with you Paul about the legal system - it must be just and provide reasonable proof that anyone is guilty. That unfortunately means that guilty people will get off sometimes but as you say any of us would rather know that we will be treated fairly should we ever have to defend ourselves in a court of law. However, I can only imagine how frustrating that becomes when you are the family of a victim of serious crime and the guilty party gets off because of a poor case or on a technicality. Nothing in life is simple it seems.

The only reason I commented on this case is that it just seems impossible to me that she did't know and you just think, how stupid does she believe people are? No-one is that naive in this day and age surely!

Omaniblog said...

You are surely right. She knew and she didn't expect anyone to believe her. But she knew she was charged within a legal system and she took advantage of that. Wouldn't you, if you had a chance? There are so many people living without a legal system.

As for the feelings of victims, this is a big subject which you have probably considered many times. We all got to think about this during the recent victim impact statement.

Do you think the feelings of victims can ever be made to go away by how the guilty are treated? How long does the feeling of satisfaction last? Does a good tough sentence heal hurt and loss?
Thankfully, I have not been tested. I have only thoughts about this. I hope I never can speak from experience on this issue.