Thursday 19 September 2019

Tragic GP drug case to be 'the talk of nation'

Trial: Bernadette Scully. Photo: Collins Courts
Trial: Bernadette Scully. Photo: Collins Courts
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

The barrister for a GP charged with the manslaughter of her daughter has told the jury he believes there will be a national debate on the issues involved once the trial is over.

Ken Fogarty SC commented that it was 'an eye-opener' that our society could heap such responsibility on the shoulders of one woman and "when it goes wrong, turn around and say: 'You killed her.'"

Bernadette Scully from Emvale, Bachelor's Walk, Tullamore has denied the manslaughter of her daughter, Emily Barut (11), by an act of gross negligence on 15 September 2012, involving the administration of a toxic level of the sedative chloral hydrate.

Closing statements for both sides have been heard in the trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Prosecuting counsel Tara Burns SC told the jury they were not being asked to determine whether Dr Scully was a good mother and said no one was questioning her love and care to her child over the years.

However ,she claimed that as a mother and a GP, the accused had a duty of care and would have known the safe level of chloral hydrate.

She said that by her own admission Dr Scully had said she had an 'absolute rule' never to administer more than 20ml of chloral hydrate within a 24-hour period which was in line with what the experts said.

Read more: 'I did not cause Emily’s death. It’s so hurtful to hear that' - Accused mother tells manslaughter trial

However, she said, on September 15 2012, "Ms Scully broke all those rules", administering 34ml by 11am.

She said the prosecution did not have to prove the level of chloral hydrate was the only cause of death but a substantial cause.

Ms Burns claimed Dr Scully's conduct after her daughter's death - two attempts to take her own life, failing to tell her partner that Emily was "dead in the bedroom" and the note she wrote - constituted evidence Dr Scully accepted she was responsible for Emily's death.

In closing, Ken Fogarty SC, for the defence, said that having lost her much-wanted daughter, his client was now facing accusations she killed her.

She had looked after the child on her own while working as a GP with little support and "nobody was knocking at the door to help her".

"She was minded like a little princess," he said.

Mr Fogarty commented that it said much about our society that it could heap such responsibility on the shoulders of one woman and when it goes wrong, turns around and say: "You killed her."

He questioned why nobody had asked whether Emily had suffered a fatal seizure at 11am that day.

Mr Fogarty pointed out that the State pathologist Marie Cassidy said Emily could have died of a terminal seizure at any time.

"I believe in the coverage that this case has got, that maybe there'll be a debate, depending on your decision," he concluded.

The jury is expected to begin its deliberations later today.

Irish Independent

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