Tuesday 28 March 2017

Assisted suicide trial: Searches on deceased's computer for 'peaceful pill handbook'

Gail O'Rorke leaving Dublin District Court
Gail O'Rorke leaving Dublin District Court

Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher

THE trial of a woman accused of assisting the suicide of her friend has heard evidence of internet searches on the computer of the deceased for the term “peaceful pill handbook.”

Retired Detective Garda Martin Hogan told the trial that he recovered files on the computer of the late Bernadette Forde (51) which suggested there had also been internet searches for the term “lethal dose.”

The detective, who worked in the computer crime investigation until 2012, said he also found email exchanges between two people referring to a package that had been held up at customs but was then successfully delivered.

Earlier today the solicitor for Ms Forde told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the accused was left 30 per cent of the residue of her late friend’s estate in her will.

Maurice O’Callaghan said that he asked Ms Forde in some detail about her decision to have “a stranger” and non family member as a major beneficiary.

Mr 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 covered in other specific provisions, to 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 (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 solicitor 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 Mr McGuinness that Ms Forde told him that the acid test for her was that Gail had been a fantastic friend and carer who had done unenviable tasks for her.

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

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

The jury heard Bernadette felt she'd no future and that it was Gail who was going to hold her hand when she travelled to the Dignitas euthanasia clinic in Switzerland.

Reading from his notes of the meeting with Ms Forde he stated: “She started out as a cleaner then became a wonderful friend”.

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