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Tragic gran found with maggots and bed sores

EVELYN Joel's last days were spent lying in her own excrement, with deep infected bed sores, maggots on her body, badly dehydrated and malnourished.

The petite 59-year-old grandmother had pressure ulcer wounds all over her back, thighs and groin and was so emaciated that a doctor called to the scene could see her bones through her flesh.

Wheelchair-bound with multiple sclerosis, Evelyn had moved to her daughter Eleanor's home in Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, 14 months previously when her partner Alfie could no longer care for her because of his own ill health.

The tragic circumstances of her death have been the subject of two HSE investigations and two trials with her daughter Eleanor (38) and partner Jonathan Costen (40) finally being found guilty of killing Evelyn by neglect.



breathe

The neglect lay hidden from her extended family, her neighbours and the authorities until the medical emergency call brought ambulanceman Liam O'Neill to the door.

He subsequently described how he found it hard to breathe as he walked into Evelyn's nappy-filled bedroom where flies buzzed around the excrement on the bed.

He was so disgusted he called Dr Derek Forde to the scene to witness the filth before making any attempt to remove the dying woman to hospital.

Dr Forde too was overcome by the stench in the small box room, describing Evelyn's condition as the worse he had ever seen in his 25-year career.

The ambulance crew had to don protective gowns, masks and gloves to take away the dying woman, who weighed less than four stone and who had to be washed at the hospital before she could be treated and living larvae removed from her body.

It was an agonising death for the mother-of-two, who died seven days later at Wexford General Hospital.

Evelyn Connolly had married her cousin Billy Joel, a blocklayer, in 1972 and they had two children, Liam and Eleanor.

Neighbours described her as a devoted mother who supplemented the family income by knitting Aran sweaters.

The family were not well off and did not even have electricity in their terraced cottage on the side of Vinegar Hill.

When the marriage ended Evelyn went to live in Arklow for some years but then came back to Enniscorthy and found true love with her husband's brother Alfie, whose own wife had died.

Her life with Alfie seemed to have been the happiest period of her life, although her son Liam broke off contact with his mother.

Evelyn developed multiple sclerosis and when Alfie's own health broke down he brought Evelyn to her daughter's house on the Cluain Dara estate. Alfie and Evelyn never saw each other again and he died on December 15, 2005.

According to Eleanor, her mother, already weakened and bed-ridden, ate hardly a bite of food after Alfie's death.

She told Joe Duffy's radio programme that her mother "wanted to be left alone. She told me: 'I don't want help. I don't want to go into a nursing home, I don't want a doctor. I don't want anything from anybody'."

Eleanor said her mother was found lying in her own excrement because she wouldn't leave her nappies on. "I used to put them back on and she used to take them back off."

The court was told how Eleanor was suffering from post-natal depression and frightened by a lump in her breast in the months before her mother's death and admitted she was "fed up" looking after her.

Unfortuntately she did not reach out for the professional help which might have averted such an appalling tragedy.

csheehy@herald.ie


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