Friday 22 September 2017

Court hears of Dr Scully's tough life and devoted care of Emily

Bernadette Scully with her partner, Andrius Kozlovskis pictured leaving the Central Criminal Court in Dublin. Photo: Collins Courts
Bernadette Scully with her partner, Andrius Kozlovskis pictured leaving the Central Criminal Court in Dublin. Photo: Collins Courts
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Listening to the evidence, it was hard to escape the observation that Bernadette Scully had had little luck in life.

Born in Tullamore, Co Offaly in February 1958, she was one of nine children whose father had dropped dead of a heart attack as a young man and she helped her mother and siblings financially.

The youngest sister, Teresa, had been her 'baby' and she had carried her around, she told the court.

Bernadette did well in her Leaving Cert and was expected to do medicine, though, she mused in court, maybe she should have done teaching instead.

She worked in various hospitals here before going to England to get some GP experience in Devon and then in a Midlands practice, before travelling to Australia, working in the "Outback with the Aborigines".

But she wished to go home and so she returned to Ireland, setting up her own practice in Tullamore.

After three years she got her medical card list, but it was a very heavy workload with the maximum 2,000 patients on her list.

In 1986 she married a fellow doctor who was in the practice with her, but after seven years the marriage ended "because apparently he was homosexual," Dr Scully said in court, weeping.

She said that as a GP in a small town "you were a gold fish in a gold fish bowl".

"I couldn't talk to anyone about it because I felt so ashamed," she said.

Things were different now, she observed to the court.

She did not feel she was "very streetwise" at the time.

"A 14-year-old would have sussed it out faster than me," she said.

She told the trial that her mother had said he "did the decent thing and left the country".

"He's a good man - he'd still do anything he could to help me," Dr Scully said.

But she felt very low at this time because she had always wanted a child of her own and she admitted that once a sweat broke out when she saw "chubby babies sitting in trolleys" in the local supermarket.

A neighbour introduced her to Turkish-born Haluk Barut, who ran the Anatolia restaurant in Tullamore and the couple were married.

Her husband turned out to have difficulties with alcohol and gambling and the marriage broke down in 2003, leaving her to pay his gambling debts and a €1m bill for Revenue, the trial heard.

In the meantime, Dr Scully had two unsuccessful IVF attempts before conceiving again at the age of 42. This time the baby 'held on'.

"She just wanted that little baby so much and she was over the moon," Bernadette's sister Teresa said in court.

"The sun shone over her and no-one could darken her days."

But Dr Scully had concerns. There were not as many movements as she expected and at her 37-week scan, the technician observed the head seemed small.

The consultant dismissed her concerns.

The baby was induced at 38 weeks and Dr Scully wept in court as she recalled how the baby hadn't cried at birth.

"I just remember the labour ward was so quiet," she said.

The consultant just reassured her that she had a "lovely, quiet baby".

When Emily was 11-days-old her mother rushed her to hospital because she could not wake her up from sleep. Dr Scully took Emily to Crumlin hospital where doctors realised that she was profoundly disabled.

"She'll have severe mental retardation. She'll probably develop epilepsy. She may not walk. She may not talk. She may have difficulty hearing," Dr Scully was told.

"This all just came out just like this. He said a few more words and he just left," she said during the trial.

Dr Scully's world fell apart - but she put herself to work to make her daughter's life as good as it could be, even travelling to a clinic in England to learn more.

Emily had the mental capacity of a six-month-old, was visually impaired, could not talk, sit or stand unaided and could only make small sounds.

Through advice obtained in the UK, Dr Scully had, with great difficulty, obtained a special lycra suit to ensure that her muscles did not become contracted. It worked.

Despite her disability, her body was developing normally.

Experts said Dr Scully's care for Emily had been "100pc plus", noting the good state of her lungs and even her manicured nails and smooth hair.

In 2007, Dr Scully began a relationship with Andrius Kozlovskis, a Lithuanian composer, who helped her care for Emily.

It was he who found Emily, cold in her bed in September 2012 and Dr Scully unresponsive.

He supported her faithfully through every day of the trial.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News