Sunday 22 October 2017

Couple ordered to do just 240 hours of community service for neglect that led to mum's death surrounded by filth

Brendan Furlong

A WOMAN and her partner have been given community service after being found guilty of the manslaughter of her mother through neglect.

Eleanor Joel (39), daughter of the late Evelyn Joel, and her partner, Jonathan Costen (41), were each given a two-year suspended prison sentence on condition they complete the 240 hours of work.

The couple, from Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, had both been found guilty of the unlawful killing of Evelyn Joel (59) by neglect on January 7, 2006.

The trial had heard from prosecuting counsel Justin Dillon that central to the case was that Evelyn Joel had suffered from multiple sclerosis and had been left lying in her own filth and maggots in bed at the home of the accused before been transferred to Wexford General Hospital where she subsequently died.

In passing sentence, Judge Sean O Donnabhain described the evidence as gruesome – with a terminally ill woman isolated in her own room, lying in her own filth and maggots.

He said that the defence presented that this happened because of the isolation, abandonment and lack of services – but that was rejected by the jury. Detective Garda Martin Brauders told Wexford Circuit Criminal Court of having interviewed Costen, who said: "I am sorry for what happened Evelyn. For my part, she was neglected by both of us. The neglect went on for two to three weeks. She was not cleaned, nor was her bed. I don't know about food."

Rosario Boyle, for Eleanor Joel, said it was very clear that Eleanor had a disturbed childhood, with her father drinking and carrying out violence towards her mother.

Dan Walsh, for Costen, said that he left school at 14 years of age and lived in England until age 20 before returning home.

At the time, Mr Walsh said that Costen had been drinking heavily, while experiencing financial difficulties.

He was struggling to cope with the normal demands of everyday life, but has now sought counselling for alcohol abuse and has not drunk since March last year.

In a victim-impact report, Evelyn's brother, Tom Connolly, said: "Even though we were always a close family, we were not always together.

"We found the whole incidences of the trials a whole sickening experience, while the family had not received any counselling but looked after each other.

"The family are very angry and will never forgive, for they have never received an apology from the accused."

Judge O Donnabhain said the psychological report also showed that Eleanor Joel suffered from a high level of social introversion, which is one of the factors that mitigated against her from looking for help.

He also said there was nothing in the evidence before the trial to suggest anyone else should have been before the court.

Sentencing both to two years in prison, suspended for two years, Judge O Donnabhain ordered that both complete 240 hours' community service.

He also made it a condition that both should obey conditions set out in the social welfare report or the prison sentence would be activated. He also ordered that both remain sober in public.

Irish Independent

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