An Irish nanny living illegally in the US is facing the prospect of a murder charge after a baby was allegedly fatally injured while in her care.
Aisling McCarthy Brady, 34, has pleaded not guilty to accusations of fatally assaulting one-year-old Rehma Sabir while looking after the child at her employer’s home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Prosecutors say the toddler sustained a catastrophic head injury as a result of an assault on her first birthday, and died two days later at Boston Children’s Hospital. They are expected to charge Ms Brady with murder once an autopsy is complete.
The case comes just over a decade and half after a British nanny, Louise Woodward, was convicted of murder – a charge later reduced to involuntary manslaughter – of Matthew Eappen while looking after the eight-month-old at his home in Newton, Massachusetts.
Ms Brady, who arrived in the US in 2002 on a 90-day visa but continued to live and work in the country illegally, maintains her innocence. “She loved that child,” her lawyer, Melinda Thompson, said after the judge held her on $50,000 (£31,500) bail.
According to court records obtained by the Boston Globe, the police found blood-stained baby wipes and a blood-stained pillow and blanket in the toddler’s crib when they arrived late in the afternoon on 14 January.
Ms Brady, prosecutors say, was the only adult present with Rehma after 1pm. She arrived at the apartment before 8am and woke the child. Shortly after, a neighbour heard the child crying for nearly 90 minutes.
The toddler’s parents, Sameer Sabir, a successful entrepreneur who moved to the US from London, and Nada Siddiqui were part of a nanny sharing scheme, according to the documents, and Ms Brady was in charge of second infant during the same day. The second child, a seven-month-old boy who was unharmed, was dropped off at Mr Sabir’s home around noon.
According to Ms Brady, Rehma was asleep at the time, having napped from around 10.20am to around 1pm, when the nanny put the child in her high chair for lunch. “By Ms Brady’s own account, Rehma continued to play, eat, track her with her eyes and appear otherwise happy and normal at least until the 1.30pm feeding,’’ prosecutors wrote.
Later, Ms Brady is said to have put the child back to bed for a nap. But Rehma continued to sleep until after 4pm, reportedly causing the nanny to grow concerned. When Ms Brady went to wake up the child, she noticed that the toddler was clenching her fist and her arms and legs were stiff. She rang the child’s father, who told her to call the emergency services.
As the case unfolds, the American media has begun digging into Ms Brady’s past. In 2007, the nanny was reportedly charged with assault for attacking her female roommate – although the case was later dismissed. She is also reported to have been the subject of two restraining orders in the past.
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