Son hadn't seen mum in three years
Family members tell woman's death trial they had no idea how 'bad it was'
Published 27/10/2011 | 05:00
THE son of a woman who weighed just three stone when she died in hospital revealed in court that he had no contact with his mother in the three years before she passed away.
Evelyn Joel (59) died in hospital on January 7, 2006, six days after ambulance staff found her lying in filth in the upstairs bedroom of the house where she lived with her daughter, Eleanor Joel (37), and her daughter's partner, John Costen (39), in Enniscorthy.
Eleanor Joel and John Costen, who are on trial before Wexford Circuit Criminal Court, both deny the unlawful killing by neglect and reckless endangerment of Mrs Joel.
Mrs Joel died from pneumonia, complicating sepsis syndrome because of infected pressure sores from immobilisation caused by MS.
Yesterday, the court heard that Mrs Joel's son, Liam, had "very little" contact with his mother after she split up with his father, Billy Joel, when he was 22 or 23 years old.
His parents had been related and were first cousins once removed.
They used to have rows, sometimes involving alcohol on the part of his father, the court heard. Liam Joel had described how money was "scarce" when he was growing up but he was happy.
Mr Joel said he saw his mother around three years prior to her death when she called to his house in a taxi to visit.
He said his mother had moved in with his sister, Eleanor, and although he visited his sister's house in Cluain Dara, he didn't see his mother as she was always "upstairs".
It was not until the day after his mother was buried that Mr Joel heard how "bad it was" and what was supposed to have happened through media reports.
He has not spoken to his sister since this.
Liam Joel's partner Laura Kavanagh told the court that she went to the house in Cluain Dara to visit at the time of her son's communion in May 2005.
"She was fine, she was upstairs a lot," she said of Mrs Joel. She described visiting the house and seeing "old dinner plates and beer cans" on the floor.
She also recalled having a conversation with Eleanor Joel after the hospital had called to say that Mrs Joel was dead.
"She said, 'what am I going to do, she's dead and I didn't get to say goodbye?'."
Ms Kavanagh said that Eleanor Joel had remarked: "I suppose you all are blaming me for all this?"
She replied that this was not the case.
Mrs Joel's nephew, David Connolly, told the court he visited the house at Christmas 2005 to drop off a Christmas present for Eleanor's son, who is his godson. He said he noticed a "vile" smell upstairs.
The court heard that Mr Connolly was "put off" going into Evelyn's bedroom to see her "because of this smell".
Francis Costen told the court he got a call from his brother, John Costen, to come to the house in Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, as Evelyn's room was being "cleaned out" on January 5, 2006.
The trial, which is expected to last another three weeks, continues tomorrow before Judge Gerard Griffin.