Woman died after blood was poisoned, court told
EVELYN Joel died from pneumonia and probably contracted blood poisoning from faecal matter infecting her open wounds, a court heard yesterday.
State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy told the court that "no comment can be made as to whether or not there was evidence of neglect or of long-term starvation or physical abuse".
Evelyn's daughter Eleanor Joel (37) and her partner Jonathan Costen (39) have both pleaded not guilty at Wexford Circuit Court to the unlawful killing by neglect and reckless endangerment of Mrs Joel.
The pair lived at 37 Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, with Mrs Joel.
Dr Cassidy, who conducted a post-mortem examination on Mrs Joel, said there were pressure ulcer wounds all over her back, thighs, groin and side, adding that there was no evidence that she had been physically assaulted or otherwise abused.
Under cross-examination from Rosario Boyle SC, she said even in expert hands, pressure sores can occur in patients who are stationary in position over a lengthy period of time.
"She developed blood poisoning because the sores became infected with bacteria."
Specialist Medical Registrar Dr Clodagh O'Dwyer said she saw Mrs Joel at the casualty department on January 1, 2006.
She said Mrs Joel's blood pressure was "unrecordable" using hospital equipment, adding that she also had very deep pressure sores.
She told the court that she spoke with Eleanor Joel to inform her that her mother might not survive.
"Eleanor Joel didn't say much. She was quite dazed at the time. I asked her how long she (her mother) had been unwell and she said for quite a long time with MS."
Dr Quigley, who first saw Mrs Joel in 2000, said she was unable to care for herself and was incontinent of urine and faeces when he saw her then, but improved in the following years, until his final appointment with her in late 2003.
The court heard that she refused to have her hair washed during a 30-day stay at the hospital that year and refused to let nurses place a catheter in her.
Dr Quigley said it was arranged that Mrs Joel would go home upon her own request in 2000.
"I met Mrs Joel's daughter (Eleanor) in 2000 and it struck me she was doing her best for her mother and was going to do her best for her," he said.
The case continues.