Woman seeks to stop retrial for gross negligence leading to mother's death
THE DAUGHTER of the late Evelyn Joel has initiated a High Court action aimed at preventing her retrial on a charge of gross negligence leading to the death of her mother.
The decision to retry Eleanor Joel in connection with her mother’s death more than six years ago is unfair, oppressive, and constitutes an attempt to “scapegoat” her in order “to protect more powerful entities”, argued her lawyer.
Evelyn Joel (59), who had multiple sclerosis, died of pneumonia on January 7th, 2006, a week after she was admitted to hospital in Wexford. Mrs Joel had been living with her daughter in Enniscorthy prior to her death.
Eleanor Joel (38) and her partner, Jonathan Costen (39), were later charged with unlawfully killing Mrs Joel by neglect.
The couple denied the charges. Following a seven-week trial at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court last year, a jury failed to reach a verdict.
Eleanor Joel, Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, is seeking leave to bring High Court judicial review proceedings aimed at halting her retrial for the offence of gross negligence.
When the case was mentioned yesterday, Mr Justice Brian McGovern was told the application for leave would be made on notice to the respondents – the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Garda Commissioner, Ireland and the Attorney General – and the notice parties to the intended proceedings, Mr Costen and the Health Service Executive.
In those circumstances, the judge adjourned the matter for mention only to later this week.
In her action, Ms Joel contends there is a serious risk the retrial will be unfair and contrary to her rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.
Deirdre Murphy SC, for Ms Joel, said the proposed retrial was to “make a scapegoat” of her client, “placate the mob”, and “protect the more powerful”. There was no evidence any failure by Eleanor Joel led to her mother’s death, counsel said.
In her proceedings, Ms Joel is seeking an order restraining further steps in prosecuting her and various declarations, including that the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter is inconsistent with the Constitution and the State’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The challenge to the constitutionality of the offence arises from its vagueness, counsel said.