Wednesday 18 September 2019

Emotionally complex trial deeply unsettling to witness

Bernadette Scully leaving the Central Criminal Court after she was found not guilty. Photo: Collins
Bernadette Scully leaving the Central Criminal Court after she was found not guilty. Photo: Collins
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

There is always an element of voyeurism to high-profile court cases.

It's our version of the American 'perp walk' where we gawk at people who have done something wrong. But, as was established yesterday, Dr Bernadette Scully hadn't done anything wrong. After a gruelling two-week trial, she was found innocent.

Yet over the course of the trial, every day, fresh footage and photos would appear as she was followed by a bank of photographers into court.

Her face drawn, her coat closed tightly around her shoulders, she seemed to be silently screaming.

Fragile and emotionally raw, a woman caught, to use her own words, in "a living hell". A "dark place" with no respite or light. On TV, the trial was reduced to neat news segments with the words 'toxic', 'killing', 'seizures' and 'suicide' repeated again and again.

But this was a hugely complex case; and not just because it dealt with dense medical terminology.

The emotional complexity made it deeply unsettling. The court listened to the emergency phone call Scully's partner Andrius made when he found her and Emily.

The jurors watched as she openly wept. .Throughout it all, there was a sense of deep heartache and desperation.

It was full of harrowing, tangled and broken sentiment. As Dr Scully said, there aren't many people queuing to help when your child is so severely disabled as her daughter, Emily.

I can't begin to understand just how difficult the last weeks of Emily's life must have been. And the torture her mother must have felt listening to her beloved daughter's agonising cries.

Yesterday, she said her "struggle is mirrored in the lives of so many people in similar situations in Ireland".

Hopefully, Bernadette Scully's living hell may now start to ease a little. And, perhaps, her case will encourage some essential reform in order to support parents of the disabled.

Irish Independent

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