Friday 22 November 2019

Woman and partner guilty of killing sick mum through neglect

Brendan Furlong

DAUGHTER and her partner have been found guilty of killing her mother – an MS sufferer discovered emaciated and covered in excrement – through neglect.

Evelyn Joel (59) was taken by ambulance to hospital after a shocked doctor reported finding her "filthy" and "close to death" in an upstairs bedroom of her daughter's home in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, on January 1, 2006. She died in Wexford General Hospital six days later.

Her daughter Eleanor Joel (38) and Joel's partner, Jonathan Costen (40), from Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing by neglect of the MS sufferer.

However, following just over four hours of deliberation, a jury delivered an 11-1 majority guilty verdict yesterday evening.

During the two-week trial, the court heard Costen had expressed remorse and told gardai he "was sorry for what happened to Evelyn".

"For my part, she was neglected by both of us,"he said in a statement read out to the court. "The neglect went on for two to three weeks. She was not cleaned, nor was her bed. I don't know about food."


There was no objection to bail, and Joel and Costen were ordered to surrender their passports and sign on once a week at Enniscorthy garda station.

Defence lawyers requested a psychological report be prepared for Joel, while a probation and welfare report was ordered for both Costen and Joel.

Sitting at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Sean O Donnabhain granted bail and adjourned sentencing to Monday, February 11.

Justin Dillon, prosecuting, told the jury that central to the case was that Mrs Joel suffered from multiple sclerosis. The State's case focussed on the last four or five weeks she was in her daughter's house before being moved to hospital, and it appeared she had been in bed all of that time.

During the trial, Dr Derek Forde, who attended the house at Cluain Dara after an ambulance was called, described the smell in Mrs Joel's bedroom as "overpowering" and the filth on her was "not fresh".

After speaking to Joel and Costen, Dr Forde said he was "horrified and could not believe it"."They (the accused) said she (Evelyn) would not do what they wanted," the doctor said.

He called the gardai and rang ahead to warn staff in the hospital.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy found Mrs Joel died from pneumonia, caused by sepsis from pressure sores due to being bedridden from advanced MS.

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