Police say they found bloody items in the bedroom of a 1-year-old who authorities allege was assaulted by her Quincy nanny before dying.
Newly released documents from Cambridge District Court say that when authorities searched the Cambridge bedroom of 1-year-old Rehma Sabir they found bloody baby wipes and a bloody blanket and pillow in the child’s crib. They also noticed damage to the wall near the child’s changing table, which her parents said had not been damaged before Rehma was taken away in an ambulance on January 14th — the baby’s first birthday. Rehma died two days later.
Prosecutor Katharine Folger alleges that the baby’s nanny, 34-year-old Aisling McCarthy Brady, caused the child’s fatal injuries.
“It is very clear that the only person who had contact with this child at the time these injuries were inflicted was the defendant,” Folger said at Brady’s arraignment. “The diagnosis for the injuries is abusive head trauma that would be consistent with the very violent shaking of a child or shaking and impact.”
The documents also say that a neighbor told police that she heard a baby’s cries coming from the apartment that day and the crying became extreme after 9:30 a.m., about the time Rehma’s mother left for work. The neighbor told police that she knocked on the apartment door because of the crying, but no one answered.
Rehma’s parents, Sameer Sabir and Nada Siddiqui, have not commented. Sabir is a native of London and has founded life sciences companies in Massachusetts and Europe. He has been in Massachusetts for at least three years and co-founded the Cambridge company MoMelan Technologies, which was sold to a Texas company last month. Police say Sabir’s parents visited his apartment on January 14th and spoke with Brady but said they did not see the baby. Also visiting that day was the mother of a 7-month-old who shared Brady’s nanny services. The 7-month-old spent much of the day with Brady and that child’s mother told police she did not see Rehma, who Brady said was sleeping.
Brady was Rhema Sabir’s nanny for at least six months. In one online ad for her nanny services, Brady said she had been caring for children in Boston for a decade. That’s about the time Brady came to the U.S. from her native Ireland. Immigration officials say she has been in the U.S. illegally ever since.
“This is the first encounter with her since her legal entry in 2002 with U.S. federal immigration authorities,” said Ross Feinstein, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He says Brady came to the U.S. on a 90-day tourist visa in 2002 and never left. He says although Brady had two restraining orders against her and criminal assault charges that were eventually dismissed, she never came to the attention of immigration officials before.
“Obviously there can be many reasons for that,” Feinstein said. “She might not have been incarcerated, in jail, to encounter one of our law enforcement officers who are working at the jails to see if foreign born individuals are incarcerated in U.S. jails. But this is our first encounter with her since her lawful entry back in August of 2002.”
Feinstein did not have any information about Brady’s sister, who is said to live in southeastern Massachusetts, or Don James McCarthy, who married Brady in September. Feinstein says once the case is adjudicated, Brady would be sent back to her native Ireland, where reaction to this case is one of shock.
“A lot of people are upset by the story,” said Eithne Kelly, a producer with Northern Sound Radio in County Cavan, where Brady is from. “Of course innocent until proven guilty, but the story has shocked the community and a lot of people have made comparisons to the Louise Woodward case, which was huge in Ireland at the time.”
In 1997, then 19-year-old Louise Woodward, a British nanny, was charged with causing the death of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen in his Newton, Mass. home. Woodward was convicted of second-degree murder but the charges were later reduced to involuntary manslaughter because the judge said she had not acted in malice in a legal sense that supported a murder conviction.
Woodward was sentenced to time served — the 279 days she spent in prison — and was sent back to Britain. Coincidentaly, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, who is overseeing the Brady case, led the prosecution in the Woodward case. In his closing statement during the case against Woodward, he disputed defense claims that the child’s injuries were accidental
“These injuries, along with that subdural hematoma, that large bruise to his brain, were caused by the defendant, Louise Woodward, on Febraury 4th in Matthew’s own home, while she was responsible for his care,” Leone said at the time. “To believe otherwise is to believe that little falls kill little kids.”
Brady’s defense attorney Melinda Thompson has said that Brady is not to blame for Rehma Sabir’s injuries and that she is devastated. Thompson says Rehma had recently traveled to London, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and was malnourished when she returned to the U.S. She also said there were no outward bruises on the child, so it’s not likely the injuries were recent and therefore caused by Brady.
Brady is being held on $500,000 cash bail at the state’s women’s prison in Framingham. She’s due back in court next month.
This post was updated with Morning Edition feature content.