Tuesday 27 September 2016

Assisted suicide trial: Accused was left 30pc of friend's estate in will

Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher

Published 22/04/2015 | 13:41

Gail O’Rorke
Gail O’Rorke

The trial of a woman accused of assisting the suicide of her friend has heard that the accused was left around 30 per cent of her late friend’s estate in her will.

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The solicitor for the deceased, Bernadette Forde (51), told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he asked Ms Forde in some detail about her decision to have “a stranger” and non family member as  a major beneficiary.

Maurice O’Callaghan testified that Ms Forde instructed him that she wanted to leave 30 per cent of the residue of the will – the content of the estate not covering in other specific provisions in the will - to the accused, taxi driver Gail O’Rorke (43).

She said she was doing this because “Gail makes her life better”, he said. Ms Forde took her own life in June 2011 using the drug pentobarbital after it was ordered online from Mexico.

O’Rorke of Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght has pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting the suicide of Ms Forde by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20, 2011 and June 6, 2011 at a location in Dublin.

She also denies that she attempted to aid and abet the suicide of Ms Forde by means of attempting to arrange travel to Zurich, Switzerland for such purpose between March 10 and April 20, 2011.

She further denies that she procured the suicide of Ms Forde between June 4, and June 6, 2011 by means of making funeral arrangements for Ms Forde in advance of her death.

Mr O’Callaghan told Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, that Ms Forde met him in February 2011 and set out her instructions for her will. She told him that she wanted to split the residue of the will, after a number of specific amounts to other beneficiaries, between her niece Catriona and the accused.

The witness said he was aware of Ms Forde’s medical condition of multiple sclerosis. He said at their first meeting he dealt “in great detail” with the issue of whether any pressure was being applied to Ms Forde by Ms O’Rorke.

He said he was absolutely satisfied that there was no undue influence on his client. He said he was 100 per cent satisfied that Ms Forde was of sound mind and was in full capacity to make out her will.

Mr O’Callaghan told Dermott McGuinness SC, defending, that he asked Ms Forde about not leaving anything to her siblings and she hold him that she was including people in her will “who made her life better”.

He told the court: “That was the acid test. She said Gail wasn’t pointing a gun to her head, wasn’t applying pressure. She said Gail makes her life better”.

He said she told him that Gail washes her feet and puts cream on them since a severe car crash in 2008. He said she told him that nobody could have done more for her.

Reading from his notes of the meeting with Ms Forde he stated: “From now on Gail is stuck with the unenviable task of washing her. She started out as a cleaner then became a wonderful friend”.

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