Wednesday 20 September 2017

'I don’t think she saw her life without Emily' - Partner of manslaughter accused gives evidence at trial

Dr Bernadette Scully at court, where she pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of her daughter, Emily Barut (11) Picture: Collins
Dr Bernadette Scully at court, where she pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of her daughter, Emily Barut (11) Picture: Collins
Dr Bernadette Scully leaving the Central Criminal Court. Pic Collins Courts.

Natasha Reid

The partner of a woman on trial, charged with the manslaughter of her profoundly disabled daughter, has given evidence of his horror at finding the 11-year-old cold in her bed and being unable to wake her mother.

Andrius Kozlovskis said there was never a suggestion of suicide or that their lives would be better without the child.

He was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday morning in the trial of 58-year-old Offaly GP Bernadette Scully.

Ms Scully is charged with unlawfully killing 11-year-old 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 Saturday September 15, 2012.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Kozlovsksis said he lived with Ms Scully and her daughter and had an active role in caring for Emily.

Dr Bernadette Scully leaving the Central Criminal Court. Pic Collins Courts.
Dr Bernadette Scully leaving the Central Criminal Court. Pic Collins Courts.

He said Emily was not well and not sleeping in the weeks before her death. She’d had surgery to replace the tube through which her medicine was delivered into her stomach.

“She was in constant pain and really suffering,” he said.

He explained that Ms Scully had also been under severe pressure in the six months before her daughter’s death.

“She suffered burnout,” he said, adding that she would never just stop and mind herself.

He said she’d also had surgery to check for cancer a few days before Emily’s operation. She went on call as soon as she woke up from the full anasthetic.

“There was no-one to replace her,” he said.

He said that Ms Scully came to him that Saturday moring.

“She was crying and said Emily wasn’t good,” he recalled.

He then attended a memorial service for Ms Scully’s nephew, who had died of sudden adult death syndrome.

“Bernie was very sad she couldn’t go,” he explained.

He said Ms Scully seemed very distressed when he returned that afternoon, and told him that Emily hadn’t slept and had a fit. She sent him to the pharmacy for some medicine.

“I came back home and Bernie counted the tablets and said there wasn’t enough, and sent me back for the rest,” he said.

When he returned from the pharmacy, she asked him to go out to get something to eat. He got into her car, where he found a brown envelope.

“At that point, Bernie just ran from the house,” he said. “I stopped. There was a commotion. Bernie grabbed the envelope.”

He said he had read the top two lines of what was written on it. It was handed to him in the witness box and he was asked to read it out.

“If anyone thinks I am,” he began, explaining that he coudn’t understand the next word.

“Something ‘for doing this’,” he continued, saying that’s as far as he had got.

He said that he tried to convince her to eat something when he returned with the food but she was tired had only a few chips.

“She lay down on the couch. She was exhausted,” he said. “I covered her until she fell asleep.”

He remained in the kitchen for the rest of the evening so he could keep an eye on both of them. He had a monitor for Emily, whom he hadn’t seen at all that day.

“If I couldn’t hear the sounds, that means she’s asleep and everything’s ok,” he explained.

He went to check on his partner when her sisters called to visit, but didn’t wake her.

“I found her head hanging down off the couch so I picked her head up,” he recalled.

He went to Emily’s room around 9pm to get her up to give her medicine and a drink.

“I couldn’t hear anything,” he recalled. “I put my ear towards the pillow. I still couldn’t hear anything.

“Then I touched her and she was cold and I panicked and ran back to wake Bernie up,” he continued. “She wasn’t waking up. I rang an ambulance. I understood something had gone very wrong.”

He said he’d noticed that Emily had some froth on her lips so he understood she’d had a fit.

He was asked about a bag he had given to gardai a few days later.

“I found a bag of stones, rocks from the garden in the car,” he said, identifying it in a photograph.

Under cross examination by Kenneth Fogarty SC, defending, he said he experienced shock and horror on finding Emily that night.

He said there was never a suggestion of suicide from Ms Scully.

“She would never even dream about it,” he said.

Having described in detail the hours it took to feed and care for Emily every day, he was asked if they had ever discussed that their lives would be better without Emily. He said they had not.

“She was part of our life,” he said.

“How much?” he was asked.

“All of it,” he replied.

He said his partner would never hurt Emily.

“I don’t think she saw her life without Emily,” he said. “Emily was

her number one priority.”

He said she was an easy child to love.

The accused woman’s sister testified that Ms Scully had used her expertise as a doctor to improve her child’s life.

Teresa Scully told Mr Fogarty that her sister was a pillar of strength, who had helped their mother care for her younger siblings when their father died.

“All Bernie ever wanted to do was to have a little baby of her own, and there was no-one more deserving because all she had done all her

life was give, give, give,” she said.

She explained that the accused and her husband had gone through a number of IVF treatments, with the third resulting in the pregnancy with Emily.

“She just wanted that little baby so much and she was over the moon,” she recalled. “The sun shone over her and no-one could darken her days.”

She said that, soon after was born, it was apparent that Emily had some difficulties and she was eventually diagnosed with microcephaly.

“Her world went black and she was devastated by the news that her little baby was going to struggle in life,” she said.

“Bernie’s instinct was to care,” she said. “With her love, compassion and devotion to that little baby,... she decided to use her expertise as a doctor to improve her life, her outcomes.”

She said she would spend up to two hours several times a day trying to feed Emily. However, at any moment, Emily could gag and all that food and nutrition would come back up.

She said she went to a number of clinics in England to try to learn more.

“If she came away with one little bit of information to improve Emily’s life, she’d be happy,” she said, mentioning that the pathologist had noticed no contractions of her limbs despite lack of movement.

“That’s all down to Bernie,” she said.

Ms Scully said she had seen Emily have seizures when her sister and niece had gone to stay with her and her three children in England following the death of her husband. He had died in 2008 while serving in Afghanistan.

“It was very frightening, very severe, very distressing for Bernie,” she said. “As a doctor, as a human being, she could never bear to see anyone hurting.”

Ms Scully said that the time leading up to Emily’s death was difficult and exhausting for her sister.

“She was already sleep-deprived over many years,” she said.

When asked about hearing that there would be a murder charge, she said she couldn’t see how anyone could question her sister’s care or what had happened to Emily.

She had earlier told Tara Burns SC, prosecuting, that she had found a bag of wet clothing in her sister’s bedroom a few days after Emily’s death and she had handed it over to the gardai.

“I was very concerned about the wetness of the clothes,” she said.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men.

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