'I was torn. My best friend needed me. But little did I know then what the consequences of helping her would be...'
In 2015, Gail O'Rorke stood trial on three counts of assisting in the suicide of her friend Bernadette Forde, who had taken her life in 2011 in the late stages of Multiple Sclerosis. Facing the possibility of fourteen years in prison for a crime she didn't commit, Gail was also grieving for the friend she'd lost.
Here in Crime or Compassion? she takes us on the journey behind the events that led to her arrest: from her remarkable early years - growing up with an abusive father and her escape to a better life - to her enduring friendship with Bernadette and the highs and lows of caring for someone you love, to the moment she was arrested by Garda officers, signalling three of the worst years of her life.
This is a story of friendship and selflessness, of the rules of a society sometimes at odds with the nature of personal suffering, and a gripping insight into the inner world of the courtroom: the characters, the colour, and the emotions that accompany standing in the dock, facing a jury of your peers.
Gail O'Rorke was born and raised in Crumlin, Dublin. She left school at an early age and was the mother of two children by the age of twenty. She married her lifelong partner at the age of twenty one and has lived in Tallaght since 1990. She comes from a turbulent background and overcame many obstacles in her early years. She worked in a variety of cleaning jobs one of which led her to meet a lady named Bernadette Forde who was a sufferer of multiple sclerosis. The loyalty and love of friendship that ensued resulted in her being the first person in the history of Ireland to be charged with the crime of assisting a suicide. After many years of fear and worry, she was acquitted on 28 April 2015 at the Central Criminal Court of Justice after a gruelling three-week trial. She continues to be an advocate for the right to die with dignity campaign. She now enjoys life surrounded by her partner Barry, their two grown children and three grandchildren.