Gardaí investigate death of girl (11)


The mother of a severely disabled girl (11) who died on Saturday night remains in intensive care at the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

The woman, named locally as Dr Bernadette Scully, had been discovered with daughter Emily unconscious in the family home.

Gardaí have said they are not looking for anyone else at this time in connection with the death.

The girl was found at her home on the north side of the town by gardaí who had been called out to the property at about 9pm.

An ambulance attended the scene and took the girl to the Midland Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Her mother, a well-known 55-year-old GP in the area, was also taken to the hospital, where she remained last night in its intensive care unit.

The family home, a detached bungalow on Bachelor’s Walk, a busy tree-lined avenue in an upmarket part of the town, remained sealed off last night. A Garda van was parked at the wooden entrance gates to the home, which had earlier been examined by the Garda Technical Bureau.

Neighbours and local residents were reluctant to talk about the tragedy. Those who did expressed their shock at the death and their respect for the doctor, describing the death as heart-breaking and inexplicable.

Neighbour Pat Longworth said he was very shocked to hear of the little girl’s death. “All of the neighbours are; we don’t know what happened,” he said. He described the mother as a very quiet woman and said he had seen the child regularly going in and out of the house in her wheelchair with her nurse. The doctor works in a busy and popular practice on Clonminch Road in the town.

Local parish priest Fr Seán Heaney said he was called out to the hospital late on Saturday night to minister to the child. “It is very sad. The death of a child in any circumstances always evokes great sympathy and feeling. People are just benumbed and perplexed by this situation,” he said.

He had met the child’s mother on a number of occasions and she was very well-regarded in the area. So far he had not been called to the hospital to offer comfort to the woman, who remained in isolation, he said.

Tullamore Fine Gael councillor Molly Buckley said the death was a terrible tragedy. “The family is very well-known and loved by the entire town,” she said. “We are all devastated.”

Last night a Garda spokesman said the results of the postmortem carried out at the Midland Regional Hospital by State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy had not yet been confirmed.

He denied reports the results were inconclusive and would require further toxicology tests before a cause of death could be established. He said it was unlikely the child’s name would be formally released today given the circumstances of her death.