Northern Ireland news

Ex-Tyrone GAA doctor guilty of professional misconduct in Republic

Dr James Cassidy, a former Tyrone GAA team doctor, was found guilty two counts of professional misconduct

A FORMER Tyrone GAA team doctor convicted of involvement in an attempt to forge an elderly spinster's £1.5m will was under "duress" from a paramilitary figure.

A Medical Council inquiry in the Republic was told that Dr James Cassidy, also known as Seamus, was under a "credible and real" threat from a man known only as 'Mr A'.

The inquiry heard that 'Mr A' was no longer at liberty.

The Dungannon-born GP - who was previously attached to the Tyrone senior football team - was yesterday found guilty of two counts of professional misconduct.

It comes more than a year after the 64-year-old was convicted in a Newry court of conspiring with others to attempt to alter the will of Catherine 'Kitty' Haughey between 2004 and 2007 and to fake a sale of property.

The 81-year-old spinster, who owned Larkin's pub in Forkhill in south Armagh, left cash, land and property worth £1.5m on her death in 2004.

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

In 2014, Dr Cassidy pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years.

The Medical Council inquiry this week heard allegations Dr Cassidy, who had a practice in Dundalk, had failed to notify the council on his application for registration that he had been convicted in a court of law.

Dr Cassidy said he failed to declare in May 2009 that he was convicted of drink driving in Northern Ireland.

The professional misconduct findings relate to the road traffic offence, but the inquiry also found against Dr Cassidy over the conviction in Newry.

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

RTE reported on Thursday that Ken Connolly, representing Dr Cassidy, told the inquiry his client was deeply ashamed and remorseful, but acted under "duress" when he was purported to witness the signature of a will.

Dr Cassidy said the duress came from a patient, Mr A, with the threat increasing and extending to his family and was in the context of the geo-political 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.

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