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Son didn't see mum for years, death trial told

THE son of Wexford woman Evelyn Joel revealed in court that he had no contact with his mother in the three years before her death.

Evelyn Joel (59) died in hospital on January 7, 2006, six days after ambulance staff found her lying in filth in the upstairs bedroom of the house where she lived with her daughter and her daughter's partner in Enniscorthy.

Ambulance men found it "hard to breathe" in the box room and reported a "very strong odour" when they were halfway upstairs.

Eleanor Joel (37), and her partner John Costen (39), who are on trial before Wexford Circuit Criminal Court, both deny the unlawful killing of Eleanor's mother due to neglect. They also deny a charge of reckless endangerment of Evelyn Joel.

Ms Joel died from pneumonia, complicating sepsis syndrome because of infected pressure sores from immobilisation caused by MS.

The court heard that Evelyn Joel's son, Liam, had "very little" contact with his mother after she split up with his father, Billy Joel, when he was 22 or 23 years old.

His parents had been related and were first cousins once removed.

They used to have rows, sometimes involving alcohol on the part of his father, the court heard. Liam had described how money was "scarce" when he was growing up but he was happy.

Mr Joel said he saw his mother around three years prior to her death when she called to his house in a taxi to visit. He said his mother had moved in with his sister, Eleanor, and although he visited his sister's house in Cluain Dara, he didn't see his mother as she was always "upstairs".

Ms Joel was suffering from MS and was wheelchair-bound at the time of her death.

Evelyn Joel's nephew, David Connolly, told the court he visited the house at Christmas 2005 to drop off a Christmas present for Eleanor's son, who is his godson.

He said he noticed a "vile" smell upstairs.


The court heard that Mr Connolly was "put off" going into Evelyn's bedroom to see her "because of this smell".

Francis Costen told the court he got a call from his brother, John Costen, to come to the house in Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, as Evelyn's room was being "cleaned out" on January 5, 2006. He agreed that items from Ms Joel's bedroom were placed in a trailer.

The trial continues.