Friday 22 March 2019

Gardaí 'were not blinkered' on GP daughter death

Bernadette Scully produced figures during interview Picture: Courtpix
Bernadette Scully produced figures during interview Picture: Courtpix
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

An excessive level of sedatives was there in "black and white" in the post-mortem report of a severely disabled child and could not be avoided, the lead investigator has told the trial of a GP accused of manslaughter.

Inspector Ger Glavin has said gardaí were not "blinkered" on how the child had died.

Bernadette Scully (58) is charged with unlawfully killing her daughter Emily Barut (11) at their home at Emvale, Bachelor's Walk, Tullamore, Co Offaly, on September 15, 2012, by an act of gross negligence, involving the administration of an excessive quantity of the sedative Chloral Hydrate.

Dr Scully has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court and the prosecution has now closed its case.

Emily was born with microcephaly and cerebral palsy as well as severe epilepsy. The trial has heard she had the mental age of a six-month-old and could not speak or sit upright.

Under cross examination by the defence, Inspector Glavin was asked if gardaí had ever asked about alternative causes of death.

Inspector Glavin said it was a consideration but there were excessive amounts of chloral hydrate administered and that had to be investigated.

Asked if gardaí were "closed off to other possibilities", he said: "It is there in black and white" in the pathologist's report, while Dr Scully had also referred to administrating the sedative in her voluntary interview.

Mr Fogarty pointed out that the State Pathologist said there was evidence of a possible terminal seizure having occurred that day but Inspector Glavin said this was "not definitive".

"The gardaí did not enter the interview room blinkered as to chloral hydrate being everything," he said.

"As an investigator and interviewer, I could not ignore the figures Dr Scully produced during interview and also the figures produced in the toxicology report."

He also agreed that gardaí had not requested screening for any other substances even though Emily had been on 13 different medications, explaining this decision had been left to the experts.

Meanwhile, consultant neuropathologist Dr Francesca Brett told the trial that there was evidence of scarring in the brain from a long history of seizures and of more acute recent damage in samples she had tested following Emily's death.

She explained that she had found 'red, dead neurons' which were an indicator found in people who had survived some six to eight hours after a severe seizure.

It was put to her by Mr Fogarty that she had said in her report that this "may reflect a seizure terminally", however Dr Brett replied that she meant a seizure in the last few hours and "not at the end".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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