Thursday 23 February 2017

Killing accused was 'depressed'

Daughter claims she was in 'dark hole' before mother found dead

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

EVELYN Joel's daughter was in a "dark hole" suffering from post-natal depression and frightened by a lump in her breast in the months before her mother's death.

Eleanor Joel (37) and her partner Jonathan Costen (39), of 37 Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, have both pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of Evelyn (59) by neglect.

Clinical psychologist Dr Brian Glanville gave evidence before the trial at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court yesterday of how Eleanor Joel came from a "dysfunctional family".

He conducted a number of psychological assessments on Eleanor after her mother's death in January 7, 2006.

Dr Glanville said there had been disharmony between Eleanor's parents "associated with her father's heavy drinking". Eleanor had told him: "We are a weird family . . . nobody gets on."

The court heard how Evelyn Joel couldn't afford books or uniforms to send Eleanor to secondary school. She refused an offer of help from the St Vincent de Paul to send her daughter to secondary school but accepted assistance to allow her son, Liam, continue his education.

Dr Glanville said Eleanor "now regrets her limited education". He said Eleanor had described not being allowed to go to discos or to socialise with friends. The court heard how Eleanor suffered from depressive episodes since the age of 13.

Dr Glanville told the trial that Eleanor suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her second child. She also found a lump in her breast and this frightened her.

She had told the clinical psychologist that she was under financial strain and "wasn't coping".

She said she hadn't the energy to do housework and was in a "dark hole" and feeling suicidal during that time.

In the 14-month period that Evelyn lived with her daughter from November 2004 until January 2006 she "probably only had one bath", the court heard.

Eleanor also told Dr Glanville that Mr Costen seemed "increasingly annoyed" at Evelyn's presence in the house in Cluain Dara and was "verbally aggressive".

Principle

The court heard that Eleanor "agreed in principle" with his demands but she was not prepared to "push" her mother out.

On one occasion in 2005, Mr Costen gave Evelyn a leaflet on a nursing home but she "threw it in the bin".

Following her mother's death in January 2006, Eleanor felt "stigmatised" in her community and "harassed" -- particularly by the media. Dr Glanville said she had low self-esteem but "no obvious intellectual impairment".

Dr Glanville said Eleanor had a "paranoid" personality. "She wants people to like her but expects that they won't," he said.

The court also heard that Evelyn suffered from the degenerative disease multiple sclerosis (MS) and that Eleanor had "no idea" that her mother's mental state was likely to become impaired by MS.

Defence witness Professor Patrick Carr, who is an expert in nursing, also gave evidence at the trial of how Evelyn suffered from "primary progressive MS".

This is marked by a continuous, gradual decline in the patient's physical abilities.

"This is a one-way street and there's no way back," Prof Carr said.

He added that caring for a person with this form of MS was difficult, even for some trained nurses. He said that Eleanor had been put in an "impossible position".

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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