A doctor accused of the manslaughter of her profoundly disabled daughter said she did not make a conscious decision to take the 11-year-old “out of this world” when she gave her too much sedative.
Bernadette Scully, aged 58, told gardaí she had given her child double what she would have normally given her in a 24-hour period, but said her death was not premeditated. The GP’s interviews were read into evidence yesterday on the fifth day of her trial.
Ms Scully is charged with unlawfully killing Emily Barut at their home at Emvale, Bachelor’s Walk, Tullamore. It’s alleged that she killed her by an act of gross negligence involving the administration of an excessive quantity of chloral hydrate on September 15, 2012.
She has pleaded not guilty and is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Inspector Ger Glavin of Portlaoise Garda Station testified that he arrested Ms Scully and brought her to Tullamore Garda Station on April 7, 2014. She was interviewed four times that day.
The trial has heard Emily had severe epilepsy, microcephaly and cerebral palsy. She had the mental age of a six-month old, and couldn’t move or speak.
Ms Scully explained to the gardaí that she had been in a lot of pain for the past two weeks of her life, after having a procedure to replace the tube into her stomach through which she received fluids and medication.
She said she had given her chloral hydrate when she became upset at 2am and 6am, and had given it again when she had an “unprecedented” seizure around 11am. It was just the two of them in the house; her partner was at her nephew’s funeral.
“My whole aim had been to keep her alive and keep her going,” she said.
She told gardaí she had never given that much chloral hydrate before and accepted she had given too much. “What was I to do, stand there and watch her fit?” she asked.
She said “her little lips went blue” when she gave her the final syringe.
“I’m not sure how long it took. It seemed like an eternity,” she explained.
“My hands were shaking,” she said. “I took her up in my arms and she died in my arms.”
She was asked what her aim was in giving the final dose.
“To stop the fit,” she said.
“Did you know deep down what the probable outcome was?” she was asked.
“I would say no, not at the time,” she replied, adding that she had been panicked.
It was put to her that she was relieved when it was over, but she said that’s not how she felt.
“I wanted to go with her. Even to this day, I didn’t want her to be on her own,” she said.
“At the time, I didn’t stop to think,” she said. “I had nothing else to give her.” She said that she hadn’t slept in eight days and that Emily was roaring.
“I just saw my child having a fit. I was frightened and wanted to stop it,” she said. “I wasn’t a doctor that morning.” She said she now knew she wasn’t able to look after her that morning. Her reserves were gone, she said.
“I have to put it to you that the reason you brought the chloral hydrate to her bedroom that morning was to give it to her until she passed away,” suggested a garda.
She denied this.
She was asked how many millilitres she thought she had given her that morning and she estimated a total of about 32ml.
She said the most she had ever given her in a 24-hour period was around 15ml.
“So you gave her double?” she was asked.
“Yes,” she agreed.
It was put to her that, as Emily’s doctor, she had been reckless.
“It was a larger dose than I had ever given her, but they were different circumstances,” she said.
It was put to her that the decision she’d made and the action she’d taken that morning had led to her daughter’s death.
“Prof Cassidy said that and that’s what I have to deal with,” she replied, referring to the post-mortem results.
It was suggested that she was as low as she had ever been that morning, that Emily was living in extreme pain, and that she had made a conscious decision to take them both out of this world. The court has already heard that Ms Scully made two suicide attempts that day.
“I did not make any conscious decision to take Emily out of this world,” she replied. “I did make a conscious decision after Emily died to take myself out of this world.” She accepted she had written a note found at the scene, but denied writing it before Emily died.
It was put to her the note suggested premeditation.
“It wasn’t premeditated about taking Emily’s life,” she said.
The trial continues .
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