A LOCAL doctor and his secretary have denied forging the will of an elderly woman who ran a pub in south Armagh.
Dr James Cassidy and Niamh Hearty pleaded not guilty to altering the last testament of 81-year-old publican Catherine Haughey during a brief court appearance last week.
They also denied making a false agreement with Ms Haughey to sell a property — understood to be Larkin’s pub in Forkhill, which she ran for many years — to a man named Francis Tiernan.
Ms Haughey was found dead in the living quarters of her pub in December 2004.
Her body was exhumed in 2007 amid suspicions surrounding her death.
However, a post-mortem examination later confirmed she died of natural causes.
But detectives continued their investigation and earlier this year charged Dr Cassidy, who has a practice in Dundalk, and his secretary Ms Hearty on two counts of forgery and two counts of conspiracy to use a false instrument.
Dr Cassidy, who was dressed in a grey suit, pale yellow shirt and tie, and Ms Hearty, who was wearing a green top and black leather jacket, stood side-by-side in the dock as they were arraigned at Newry Courthouse.
When the four charges were put to each of them, they replied “not guilty”.
Dr Cassidy (59), whose address was listed as Killyman Road in Dungannon, and 31-year-old Ms Hearty, from Long Avenue in Dundalk, are accused of forging Ms Haughey’s signature on a will dated December 6, 2004 — nearly two weeks before her death on December 19.
The pair are further accused of making a fake agreement between Ms Haughey and Mr Tiernan on December 6, 2004 for the sale of a property, understood to be her pub.
The court heard that bench warrants have been issued for two people — one of whom is understood to be Mr Tiernan — in connection with the case.
It was also disclosed that a forensic expert will be brought from Birmingham to examine documents relating to the case.
The trial, which is expected to last between two and three weeks, will begin in early January.
Releasing Dr Cassidy and Ms Hearty on continuing bail, Judge Kevin Finnegan said he would review the case next month.
The case has caused concern in the south Armagh area, where Ms Haughey was a respected figure.
She ran the pub with her brother Mickey and sister Babs. The three siblings, who died within a short time of each other, are buried together in the same grave.
Dr Cassidy has worked with the Tyrone GAA squad in the past and has practiced in Dundalk for many years, working previously with the late Dr Mary Grehan.