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Friday 24 November 2017

Assisted suicide accused says other woman present at death

Gail O’Rorke gets a kiss from her husband before entering court where she is charged with assisting the suicide of Bernadette Forde
Gail O’Rorke gets a kiss from her husband before entering court where she is charged with assisting the suicide of Bernadette Forde
Bernadette Forde

Conor Gallagher

A WOMAN accused of helping her friend take her own life told gardaí she was not present but another person was with the deceased when she took a lethal dose of barbiturates.

Bernadette Forde (51), a former human resources manager with Guinness, took her own life in June 2011 using the drug pentobarbital when she was in the latter stages of multiple sclerosis.

Her friend and carer Gail O'Rorke (43) is accused of helping her obtain the drug from Mexico and take it. She is also accused of attempting to help Ms Forde get to a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland, a plan that was thwarted when the travel agent alerted gardaí.

Ms O'Rorke (43), a taxi driver from Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to charges including aiding and abetting the suicide of Ms Forde by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20, 2011, and June 6, 2011, at a location in Dublin.

The trial yesterday heard Ms O'Rorke told gardaí in an interview that another friend, Mary Lundy, contacted euthanasia organisation Exit International on behalf of Ms Forde.

Detective Inspector Sean Campbell said that he interviewed Gail O'Rorke in August 2011, two months after the death of Ms Forde.

Ms O'Rorke said Ms Lundy set up a "Hushmail" private email account to contact Exit International. Ms O'Rorke said the deceased was the "driving force behind this plan."

She said that on Sunday, June 5, 2011, she went to Ms Forde's house. She said she washed her and talked about "some very important things." Several family members then came to visit.

"Everyone knew what she was doing, they all knew," Ms O'Rorke said.

The accused said the plan was that she and her husband would go to a hotel in Kilkenny booked and paid for by Ms Forde. "I hoped she had the bravery to do it." Ms O'Rorke said. "I told her if I rang on Monday and she answered, it was OK. There were other options." Asked what she meant by other options, she replied: "A care home, Bernadette's worst nightmare."

Ms O'Rorke told gardaí Ms Lundy "had taken over the reins" in organising the suicide after their travel to Dignitas in Switzerland was stopped.

The accused told gardaí that she transferred €400 to Mexico on behalf of Ms Forde but didn't know what it was for. She said she never touched the drugs.

Gardaí asked if there was anyone with Ms Forde when she took the pills. She replied that it was agreed beforehand that Ms Lundy would be there.

She said Ms Lundy later told her she and Ms Forde had a few drinks and about half eight Ms Forde said it was time. She took a drink and asked "didn't I do well?" Ms Lundy allegedly responded that she did great.

Initially, Ms Forde thought nothing was happening but then started to snore and Ms Lundy left her as she was close to death. She said it was agreed they would say the deceased was "very much alive" when Ms Lundy left.

Det Insp Campbell said Ms Lundy was interviewed and replied she had "nothing to say". In a later interview, she said she left Ms Forde's house at 6pm.

Det Insp Campbell agreed that neither Ms Lundy nor anyone else, aside from the accused, was ever charged in connection with the suicide. The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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