‘My murder accusation nightmare’

Tommy and Mary Harraghy from Magherafelt who have launched a campaign to clear Mary's name
Tommy and Mary Harraghy from Magherafelt who have launched a campaign to clear Mary's name

A south Derry woman has launched a campaign to clear her name after being wrongly accused of murder.

Retired nurse Mary Harraghy found herself at the centre of a murder investigation after disabled resident, Seamus McCollum, died unexpectedly in Maine Nursing Home, Randalstown, in September 2011.

Thousands of leaflets highlighting her plight have been handed out in shopping centres and other public venues across Northern Ireland.

Helped by her husband Tommy and a team comprising of family and friends, Mary insists that she wants the public to hear her story and the torment she has endured over the past seven years.

“I’m angry,” the Magherafelt woman told the Mail.

“But I’m happy that people are taking the leaflet and reading them. It’s a great relief for me to tell people my story.”

Mr McCollum, a long term resident in the Co Antrim nursing home, was a wheelchair bound cerebral palsy sufferer who needed round-the-clock care.

The 56-year-old was fed through a tube as he had difficulties swallowing and had to be lifted in and out of bed using a hoist.

Mr McCollum was found unresponsive in his room just after 6am on September 12, 2011, and despite attempts to revive him, he passed away.

Mary had been a staff nurse on duty that morning and the shock of Mr McCollum’s unexpected death soon became a nightmare for her when she found herself a murder suspect.

“I’ve done nothing wrong, but it feels like the finger is still pointing at me. My name has been blackened and my reputation destroyed,” she said.

“I really feel for Seamus’ family too. They’ve been led to believe that someone took his life. I want them to know that I didn’t kill him. In fact, I don’t think he was murdered at all.”

She described Mr McCollum as “a well regarded patient” who had a mischievous sense of humour.

The 67-year-old former midwife was subsequently cleared by the Public Prosecution Service, the Nursing & Midwifery Council, the home owners and the Northern Trust Safeguarding Team.

She returned to work in November 2015, almost three years and eight months after she had been suspended when the inquiry was changed to a murder inquiry in March 2012.

Mary and Tommy are planning to carry on with the ‘Justice For Mary’ campaign.

“I feel better now that I’m doing something and my aim is to clear my name not only for my sake but for the sake of my family,” she stressed.