Sunday 17 December 2017

GP trial hears it's not possible to equate amount of sedative person takes with what's found in the system

Dr Bernadette Scully leaving the Central Criminal Court. Pic Collins Courts.
Dr Bernadette Scully leaving the Central Criminal Court. Pic Collins Courts.

Natasha Reid

A lawyer for a doctor accused of the manslaughter of her daughter by giving her too much sedative has suggested that there’s no formula to equate the amount of the sedative a person takes with what’s found in the system.

One of the main prosecution gardai was being cross examined by the defence on Tuesday morning in the the trial of 58-year-old Bernadette Scully.

The Offaly GP is charged with unlawfully killing 11-year-old Emily Barut, who was profoundly disabled, at their home at Emvale, Bachelor’s Walk, Tullamore. It’s alleged that she killed her by an act of gross negligence involving the administration of an excessive quantity of chloral hydrate on Saturday September 15th, 2012.

She has pleaded not guilty and is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

The trial has heard that Emily had severe epilepsy, as well as microcephaly and cerebral palsy. She had the mental age of a six-month old, and couldn’t move or speak.

Inspector Ger Glavin gave evidence on Monday of the four interviews conducted with Ms Scully following her arrest in April 2014.

Ms Scully had explained that Emily had been in a lot of pain for the last two weeks of her life, after having a procedure to replace the tube into her stomach through which she received fluids and medication.

She said she had given her chloral hydrate when she became upset at 2am and 6am, and had given it again when she had an ‘unprecedented’ seizure around 11am. Ms Scully accepted that she had given her too much.

The trial has already heard that 220 micrograms of the drug’s metabolite, trichloroethanol, was found in Emily’s bloodstream after her death, and the inspector was cross examined about this by the defence this morning.

Kenneth Fogarty SC asked if it had ever been part of the investigation to find out ‘what type of quantity of chloral hydrate would give rise to what type of quantity trichloroethanol’.

“It was, yes,” he replied, adding that working it out was ‘left to the experts’.

“With all the experts involved, there’s no formula before the jury that equates a level of chloral hydrate with a level of trichloroethanol,” suggested Mr Fogarty.

“I think you tried to illicit that from a number of expert witnesses,” accepted the inspector.

The trial continues on Tuesday afternoon before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men.

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